The Flags- an Evolution

The interplay between light colour and movement offered by simple fabrics has fascinated me ever since I first worked with them in the early 1990s.

This evolved into the idea to put up flags en-masse in a large natural space (appearing as if by magic). Preserving an anonymity and mystery about the flags was part of this idea, so that a random viewer would have an up-lifting and slightly perplexing experience

The flag project I devised in Northumberland UK titled “In Flagrante Delicto” (made up of 200 flags that toured six different locations in ’96) was the project that first successfully made-real the concept for this artwork on the scale I’d always imagined.

Then came a natural synergy with music at the Womad ’97 festival in Reading, where the flags first appeared significantly. It proved to be an irresistible combination of elements in a classic festival environment: music colour movement…. a zeitgeisty collaboration with WOMAD that continues to the present…

Since those times I’ve explored all possible applications in full, through artist-led projects like the “Living Standards” Project in Cornwall ( for the solar eclipse in ’99 curated by the Tate Gallery), or through working with festival directors, such as Michael Eavis at Glastonbury, at Eden Project with Tim Smit, or more recently Rob & Josie da Bank at Bestival & Camp Bestival.

In this way my work found a neutral nether-world in which to develop; somewhere in between the white cube art gallery and the equally unwholesome corporate world. The exposure with these arts-based festivals helped The Flags to become iconic. Their apparently simple ability to transform an otherwise empty arena has proved to be spectacular.

Over the years my flags have continued to evolve, with explorations into all aspects of the form: – colour, form, scale, roaming flag-scapes on beaches moorlands cities, projections, lighting, collaborations with other visual artists, flag-making workshops, commissions, changing flags over at night.

But…success has spawned widespread design theft and pirate ‘flag suppliers’ who make diluted copies, easily identifiable by their purely commercial motivation. The anonymity originally intrinsic to The Flags has become exploited by these false variations, obscuring my original visual message and corrupting my simple design ethic.

With this in mind, when Im asked ‘what do they stand for? ’ … in these darkening days my answer is: they are a standard, standing for Good things: for quality, conviction, positivity, equality, the real.. … and stand opposed to Bad things: cynicism, blandness, appropriation, and against these negative influences that are eroding culture.

Angus Watt.

The Flags – WORLDWIDE

  • Adelaide  Australia  (womad)
  • Acapulco Mexico – Nachlab flags
  • New York USA – original Woodstock site – (Mysteryland)
  • Colombia – Nachlab flags
  • Toronto  Canada – Wayhome festival, Bestival
  • Perth Oz – Nachlab flags
  • Ibiza Spain – Nachlab flags
  • Singapore – Gran Prix  installations for cultural programme
  • Abu Dhabi  UAE  (womad)
  • Santiago,  Chile  (Mysteryland)
  • Russia – (womad)
  • Playa Del Carmen Mexico – Nachlab flags
  • Perth, Oz – (Heads of Commonwealth Summit)
  • Sri Lanka – (womad – Festival of Drumming)
  • Shanghai – Nachlab flags
  • Taranaki & Aukland – New Zealand (womad)
  • Uruguay – Nachlab flags
  • Wellington – New Zealand  Festival of Arts

 

The Flags – EUROPEAN FESTIVALS

  • Pukkelpop – Belgium.
  • Mysteryland – Amsterdam.
  • Womad – Las Palmas, Sicily, Athens. Fuerteventura, Caceres
  • London – Nachlab flags
  • Rimini Italy – Nachlab flags
  • Ibiza Spain – Nachlab flags

 

The Flags – UK FESTIVALS

  • Womad   1994 – present
  • Glastonbury  2003 – present
  • Bestival & Camp B.  2005 – present
  • Beautiful Days – 2007 – present
  • …& many more too dreary to list

 

Artist-led projects

  • “Living Standards” Commissioned by The Tate Gallery, Cornwall – major touring piece around West Cornwall installed in 3 locations during solar eclipse in 1999 as part of ‘As Dark as Light”   Installation art Festival, arranged by St Ives International & Tate Gallery .
  • “In Flagrante Delicto” –  a touring installation project (200 flags) at 6 sites in North UK  during “Year of Visual Art”
  • Tricolour”    a project Commissioned originally  for  Royal Crescent, Bath- a large- scale project consisting of 3 colours of banners ( Red White and Gold) used to  change environment/atmospheres over 3 weeks, using large scale banners/colour.
  • “Oerol” – Terschelling ,Holland –  large installation of  flags along the beach on island in North Sea, during  landscape based installation art festival “Oerol”.
  • Projections– experimentations with  night time projections onto flags
  • Various flag designs 1994 til present , exhibited at  sympathetic festival & events environments, as an art form ?!  –  locations listed below.
  • Workshops making/designing flags- with WOMAD Foundation: Australia, SriLanka,Johannesburg, Auckland.

 

Commissions

  • Eden Project-  making new flags every year for eco Centre in Cornwall UK.
  • Melbourne Museum  site specific artwork , collaborative, with indigenous artist Glenn Romanis and Shona Watt
  • WomAdalaide –  aboriginal  flag  project- collaborative with Pitjinjatjarra artists.
  • South Bank Centre, London.  flags along river Thames, collaborative with Shona Watt (sister)
  • Womad- 1994 til present
  • Sustrans

 

CV & Educational background

  • Pimlico school   London
  • Foundation studies  Exeter College of Art
  • Degree Fine Art  (Sculpture) at  Middlesex Polytecnic & University Northumbria 1986-1990
  • Lemba School of Art,  Cyprus- residency.
  • Freelance  visual artist-  specialising in flag and banner  design .   1990-present day.
  • Free Form Arts – Hackney London-   worked as freelance artist on  painting large scale hoardings
  • Northern FreeForm-   North Shields 1990-1994
  • Worked as Freelance artist for  Fish Quay Festival,  with award winning community & environmental arts company

 

Awards

  • Winston CHurchill Fellowship Travel award- South Africa
  • Northern arts award- Mexico  ‘festival colour’

 

Other work

  • General work Dockyards of Gibraltar
  • Metalwork Paint sprayer  Heathrow
  • Crane Kalman Gallery picture framing