This was my second attempt at this image here is my first proposal that was rejected:
The fear was that the use of the British flag would alienate certain sections of society, which really was rather the point!
I think this photo is more interesting than the one that was eventually used (not that I’m complaining – wiser people than me are involved in these decisions) because in some ways it alienates me too. The union flag has for a long time been appropriated by the far right in England (as opposed to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who, arguably, have healthier national identities). So, when I see this image I instinctively feel that I want to dissociate myself from what the flag represents, even though as a British citizen it is ‘my’ flag. I wonder if those of you who read this from other parts of the world would have the same feeling if the figure was wrapped in your own national flag or whether the uncomfortable feeling is reserved for well meaning, English, white, liberal, middle class people like me.
It’s helpful for me to see the two photographs together. They make me ask questions about the universals and the specifics of human identity: I belong to the world, I am part of the human race but I also belong to a particular part of the world, a particular culture and a particular world view. Perhaps peace comes when we hold lightly to the specifics (realising that many, many people have very different views and identities) whilst holding strongly to the human universals. The tricky bit is working out exactly what the specifics and the universals are…