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Big Issue Foundation

When John met Johnny: The Great British Postcard Competition Awards

The Big Issue Foundation was delighted to be a partner of The Great British Postcard Competition to challenge creatives to design a postcard that best reflects their perspective of Great Britain.

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, was selected as head judge for the competition, sponsored by SAXOPRINT, with a fantastic prize of £5,000 for the winning entry. The result was hundreds of entries, ranging in style, which impressed the judges.

The Big Issue Foundation was delighted to be a partner of The Great British Postcard Competition to challenge creatives to design a postcard that best reflects their perspective of Great Britain.

John Lydon, aka Johnny Rotten, was selected as head judge for the competition, sponsored by SAXOPRINT, with a fantastic prize of £5,000 for the winning entry. The result was hundreds of entries, ranging in style, which impressed the judges.

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird and Sex Pistol John Lydon shared the spotlight at The Great British Postcard Competition awards evening at Proud Camden on 25th September where they explored the most thought provoking designs, entertained the crowd and generously offered their original art to be auctioned to raise funds for The Big Issue Foundation.

“I was very impressed with the quality. Britain is a talented place!” was Lydon’s verdict.

“I was overwhelmed by some of it. It made my decision making process difficult, which actually I am damn grateful for. Because I became so involved with each little postcard achievement. Art is such an individual choice. I ignored all the blurb and text and let it hit me emotionally.”

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The Winner: End if the Road

The winner, announced on the night and taking home a cheque for £5,000 – second only to the Turner Prize – was Helen Nodding for her work ‘End of the Road.’

The painting depicts Britain’s neglected back streets, tattered English flags hover above overgrown bushes and heaped rubbish.

“I nearly fell off my chair laughing,” said Lydon. “That’s our English garbage. I love it. It reminds me of having a cigarette outside the pub in the back yard. The sense of detail really affected me. I would love a huge big print of that.”

Other prizes on the night went to Lee O’Brien, who won the online vote for his depiction of that perennial British summer time treat, the soggy barbecue. The Liverpool-based teacher pledged to use the winnings to fund the art department of his school.

And the Young Talent Winner, chosen by Dr Nicky Ryan, Dean of Design at London College of Communication, was Madeleine Kay’s Welcome to Brexitland. This print was passionately anti-Brexit, depicting a colourful, cartoonish collection of key players in last year’s decision to leave the EU. She wins a trip to Dresden (home of SAXOPRINT) and £1,000.

Funds raised

The Big Issue Foundation CEO Stephen Robertson was another to speak at The Great British Postcard Competition show. He talked about how, in these uncertain times, people can be certain that buying a Big Issue from vendors like Carlos, who was selling magazines at the event, is helping them “change their lives through business”.

Towards the end of the evening paintings by John Bird, Jon Lydon, artist John Sheehy and art provocateur Richard DeDominici were auctioned, raising vital funds for The Big Issue Foundation. The money raised will go towards empowering Big Issue vendors reach their aspirations for the future.

Sheehy, who began painting at the Big Issue arts group, read a poem to explain the thinking behind his work Soot – which recalled his time working with a chimney sweep in North London during the 1960s.

Fog of War

Lydon’s painting (pictured), Fog Of War (Benwell Rd London N7), was also a personal piece, reflecting on his early years, living in North London.

“It’s about the street I grew up in, Benwell Road, where they have now put the Emirates Stadium,” he said. “We only had two rooms and a toilet, which we shared by the local attendees of the two pubs on the street corner.

“I should have – but in those days, there was a sense of community, they were all locals in those local pubs. It was a community spirit.

“I started the painting based on that road. I thought, let’s not be too self important, what about the people who came before us – so I went back to World War II and the Blitz and put that in the background.

“Painting the Blitz also looked like bright lights, big city, which was the way out of this dead end street. Because that is where the library was, in the middle of that flame. And that is what saved me when I was ill, when I lost all my memories at seven. I spent a lot of time in that library.”

Bird’s painting, although more abstract, was also from the heart.

“It is really about this idea of using art to bring about social transformation,” he said, before explaining how learning printing skills and taking up painting helped him turn his life around.

In addition, SAXOPRINT have kindly donated 1000 boxes of 10 specially selected postcards to The Big Issue Foundation. These will be sold on The Big Issue Shop shortly; so do watch this space! 

You can read more here

Words by Adrian Lobb and Serena Crisp

Photos by Laurence LaRoche for G Media Ltd

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