North London Food & Culture

OMG! Look at these Brexit protest custard creams

Artist Sian Pattenden on how the referendum result drove her to paint on the humble biscuit

The latest four Brexit protest biscuits. Image: SP
The latest four Brexit protest biscuits, including ‘I Resign’. Image: SP

On the morning of Friday 24th June the results were in. “Britain” had voted to “Leave” the EU and suddenly the whole country seemed hugely and tumultuously lost. Ideals were lost. Compassion was lost. Love was lost. I was a bit lost. (OK, sometimes I’m melodramatic like this.)

Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland. Photo: SP
‘Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland.’ Image: Sian Pattenden.
I had initially planned to paint some artwork onto canvas board that Friday, maybe whittle a “Truth and Beauty” pencil, sit in Grrrr!, our shop and art space, drink tea, eat cake.

The nine biscuits created by Sian Pattenden to date. Photo: SP
The first nine Brexit biscuits created by Sian Pattenden. Photo: Sian Pattenden.

But over the past few weeks I had become increasingly more obsessed with painting on biscuits – making a connection to protest art, British folk art, placards/banners and the play on domesticity and toxicity (the paint makes the biscuits inedible). I was getting in deep.

EU. Photo: Sian Pattenden
‘EU’. Image: Sian Pattenden
And the only thing to do – in my liberal misery that Friday morning – was to paint post-bloody-Brexit biscuits. I’d been to the Jo Cox memorial rally in Trafalgar Square that Wednesday and I had thought, utterly believed, that “we” would vote Remain. I had to paint this stuff. I felt too mad and I needed to get it out.


Bastard Cream. Photo: SP
‘Bastard Cream’. Image: Sian Pattenden
And I can’t stop. I’m painting custard creams most afternoons and evenings. I’m dabbling with malted milk and shortbread. As the news gets more ridiculous and more hideous per hour there’s more to say, more to paint – even if it is just the colour gold or silver. Or a heart…or a whisper of something else. Which isn’t Boris Johnson and Farage succeeding in their political ambition.

I feel heartbroken in some ways, it was the only thing I could think of doing. And sometimes I think you need to start with something very small.

Fuck you May Gove Farage Johnson. Photo: SP
‘Fuck you May Gove Farage Johnson’. Image: Sian Pattenden.
Some people have asked if you can buy them. Well, the biscuits are not for sale but prints will be available. Or you can come in the shop, paint one for yourself and take it away for a suggested donation (to the shop, for materials and so on).

And they are – contrary to appearance – tough. They don’t crumble – in fact, they should last a while (well beyond the time it will take to trigger Article 50). Freeze them and they might even last longer still. Still, there is nothing wrong with auto-destructive art.

Go see the Brexit protest custard creams in the window at the Grrrr! Art Space & Shop (which is run by Sian and fellow artist Pandora Vaughan), at 6 Malden Road NW5 3HR. Open 11-5pm Tuesday to Saturday. More info on @GrrrrGallery

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