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Making EU think? Artists put Brexit installation outside empty shop in Queen’s Crescent

Couple wanted to turn former butchers into a pop-up art gallery

12 October, 2017 — By Dan Carrier

Artists Louis de Trebous and Sasha Grigorjeva

FORGET the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall or Margate’s Turner Contemporary gallery, if you want to see truly thought-provoking modern art, just head down to Queen’s Crescent.

Artists Louis de Trebous and Sasha Grigorjeva, who live in Gospel Oak, have created an installation on the pavement outside the former Coles Butchers shop which they say challenges the public’s views on Brexit.

The couple, who work under the name Achiuart, have used bits and pieces they have pulled from skips, bins and their home to offer a particular take on Britain’s divorce from the European Union. Ms Grigorjeva trained in fine art, while Mr de Trebous has worked previously as a sign writer – one of his designs graces the Blue Seas fish and chip shop in Queen’s Crescent. He said: “We make things and are always fiddling with bits, so this piece came about in a roundabout way. We wanted to create some art based on Brexit.”

Ms Grigorjeva added: “We wanted to put a political idea into a 3-D metaphor.”

A printed explanation next to the artwork states that a spring – taken from a garage mechanic – popping out of an old sofa they have painted in EU stars represents UKIP and is “propelling the UK out of the EU towards the greener pastures of the land of milk and honey…Watch out for the banana skin though, it could see the UK slip…into the murky waters of international trade where sharks such as Russia, China and America lurk…”

The work has become a landmark with people stopping to have their photographs taken next to it.

Ms Grigorjeva added: “Many pass by and do not look at what is happening around them. They are gazing at their phones or wondering what they are going to buy in a shop. But some take photographs or even sit on the sofa.”

The installation is not pro or anti EU, insists the artists, who added that they chose the location because it was outside a shop that has been empty for many months. The pair had asked the agents marketing the former Coles butchers site if they could use it as a pop-up art gallery but were turned down – so instead they set up outside it.

Mr de Trebous said: “There is lots of conceptual art at the moment that I am simply not interested in. I go to galleries and see pieces that are a load of nonsense. The art world thinks it can get people to accept any old crap.”

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