Your Space Or Mine
kennardphillipps brings ‘Peace on Earth’ to UK streets
Once upon a time there was a plan to visit sweetness and light across the land. Well, London. Erstwhile mobile phone giant Orange coughed up the necessary and charged none other than Saint Bob Geldof to ring round a few famous pals to see if they would nominate artists whose work might grace capital city landmarks via projected images that spoke to peace on earth at Christmas time.
Not exactly a new idea. But potentially a goer. You’d have thought anyway. Pop star Damon Albarn gave it his best shot. He nominated works by Banksy and kennardphillipps. For the art/activist duo Peter Kennard and Cat Phillipps this was, “A chance to use a public place to make an iconic image that would reflect the hopes of millions, to make an image of hope after a year of war.”
And so it came to pass. In 2003, as part of their joint research prior to submitting an image for Orange’s ‘Brighten Up London’ project, Kennard and Phillipps found themselves in The National Gallery. At the time, in Room 32, ‘The Virgin in Prayer’ by the Italian artist Sassoferrato caught their eye and a number of ideas and themes coalesced resulting in a piece the art duo would put forward for projection.
For their ‘Peace on Earth’ work kennardphillipps swapped the face of the Virgin Mary in Sassoferrato’s deeply devotional portrait for an image of planet earth seen from space. Above her bowed head, where you might expect to see a halo, there’s a slanted iteration of CND’s peace symbol. Conscientious objector Gerald Holtom, writing to the editor of Peace News, explained the origins of his 1958 design: ‘I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself, the representative of an individual in despair, with palms outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.’