The U.K.’s new prime minister, pundit-turned-politician Boris Johnson, may have plans that will appeal to art collectors—like creating a network of freeports—but how his tenure will impact artists is much harder to gauge. A number of successful artists based in the U.K. spoke to The Art Newspaper about Johnson’s legacy of cultural engagement during his stint as the mayor of London (from 2008 to 2016) and the likely impact of his Brexit strategy on the British art world. Their opinions ranged from polite apprehension to outright alarm.
Michael Elmgreen, one half of the artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset, told TAN:
When Boris Johnson campaigned to become mayor of London first time, one of his pledges involved cutting budgets for art projects like the Fourth Plinth; that was until he realised that culture for London was actually a good [thing]. Typically, he had strong opinions about subject matters he didn't have any clue about, and then later he had to change his mind when he was finally confronted with the facts.
The photographer Martin Parr, when asked if his outlook about Britain’s future as the Brexit deadline of October 31st approaches was optimistic, replied:
In a word no, as we potentially hurtle towards a no deal. Although I think parliament will stop this and then we'll have to have a general election.