Britain, Take A Bow

Britain, Take A Bow is an online, participatory artwork about Britain and Brexit by Graeme Crowley, with the audio creation and production by Paul Crowley. It was launched by Graeme and Paul at the Design Manchester Conference in 2018.

It was fuelled by rage – and grief – at how Brexit and nationalism have had such a profoundly negative impact on the UK – the name originating from a Daily Hate Mail front-page the week of the EU referendum results.

Front page of the daily mail from June 25 2016, celebrating the outcome of the EU referendum

Members of the public were invited to capture and upload video reflections on the state of Britain. These videos are then incorporated into the work – reflecting different perspectives.

The work has a relatively simple concept – but produces infinitely complex results

  • A 4 minute timeline with multiple edit slots for video content is auto-populated from a database of uploaded video. The database was seeded with a huge amount of video from Graeme, but has been supplemented by user-contributions.
  • The audio content is loosely based on the national anthem. Despite being written for an anachronistic institution, it retains a peculiar power over people, and is tied to the nationalistic sentiments that were stoked by the Leave campaign. And like the video, it changes continually.
  • Multiple, spoken-word narrations of God Save The Queen, are spoken in the diverse voices of UK residents.
  • Field recordings capture the everyday sounds of life in Britain.
  • Recordings of the political speeches and grand-standing by key players are included – lest we forget the promised and lies made to the public.
  • And musical components – created by Paul – are combined to create unsettling moods.
  • Over 1.5 billion permutations of the audio component are possible – hence the entirely legitimate claim of 350 millions anthems.
  • And finally, a typographic layer is superimposed – presenting the words of the anthem for reflection. Multiple designers contributed their own takes on this for the work – including Ian Swift, Malcolm Garrett and Lou Cordwell.

Every time ‘Play’ is pressed a unique version is generated and served.

10 of these ‘anthems’ are included on this site – with full-length and edited versions available. The edited versions omit the politician’s speeches from the intro, focussing just on the musical mood that’s created.

God save our gracious queen
Long live our noble queen
God save the queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the queen

One realm of races all
Blest more and ever more
God save our land
Home of the brave and free
Set in the silver sea
True nurse of chivalry
God save our land

Of many a race and birth
From utmost ends of earth
God save us all
Bid strife and hatred cease
Bid hope and joy increase
Spread universal peace
God save us all