Martha Tayler BA (Hons) Fine Art 2020

For many of us commemorative plates might be a symbol of times gone by, a tacky reminder of your Nan’s house and it’s kitsch aesthetic or a relic found in a charity shop from the era that taste forgot. These plates traditionally commemorate royal events; royal weddings, coronations, Royal babies etc. Representative as they may be of our individual or collective histories, they certainly don’t represent the society in which we live today. These plates represent one aspect of British culture but perhaps one that has become outdated and irrelevant and often reviled or criticised.

Culture means something different to each of us and the face of popular culture is always changing, now faster than ever in our time of social media and omnipresent mass media. My practice explores the types of culture we experience every day; reality TV, sports, food, music. Often these types of culture are though of as ‘low’ culture, the culture of the lower or uneducated classes, tasteless or vulgar. By using imagery representing these types of culture in the place of the esteemed culture of the royal family and by replicating the traditional designs of commemorative plates a juxtaposition is created between the high and low of society. The context of my practice is underpinned by the research of sociologists like Bourdieu who described taste as being used as a ‘social weapon’ which forces the masses to accept the distinction between high and low culture or good taste and bad taste as legitimate and natural. My work attempts to elevate what is thought of as low culture and memorialise it in a way that encourages the viewer to question their own attitudes towards different types of culture or maybe just a humorous reminder that all forms of culture are worthy and valid. In this age of austerity we are experiencing spiralling levels of financial and social inequality and the gap between the rich and poor continues to spread; this needn’t be widened with cultural patronising.