If you’re familiar with Banksy’s Crude Oils then you’d be forgiven for thinking this interrupted pastoral scene was the latest in the series.
In fact, Constable’s idyllic haywain was loaded with nuclear missiles a good few decades earlier than Banksy first picked up his spray can.
The work of Britain’s leading exponent of photomontage, Peter Kennard, Haywain with Cruise Missiles perfectly demonstrates why photomontage has long been the favoured medium of radical artists. As Kennard himself explains:
The only way to suggest a different world is not to make abstract utopian images. How do you symbolise what you want that’s not here? People want to confront what’s going on. Montage creates a new reality by piecing together images that fit in some way.
Over the past year we’ve been working with Peter Kennard to bring his latest book into being. Simply titled @earth, it is a photo-essay in seven chapters that makes a powerful statement about the current eco-crisis, the arms race and the injustices dominating today’s world. Created with the assistance of Tarek Salhany, a former student of Kennard’s, the book reconfigures familiar imagery from the media to create challenging new messages.
Kennard’s clear vision for the book was evident when he first presented us with this working dummy:
Beth, one of our editors, helped Peter and Tarek transform @earth into its final book form. She enlisted the help of staff across Tate to translate @earth into as many different languages as possible to list on the back cover, and in collaboration with our production controller, Emma, investigated the myriad of paper, binding and printing options that would give @earth the appropriate feel.
In the end, @earth is considerably more compact in finished form but its images weigh no less heavily on the mind.
TateShots filmed their visit to Kennard’s studio in Hackney, giving some insight into the thinking behind @earth.