Don’t Look Back In Anger: The Story Behind Our New ’90s Art Exhibition

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As you may have noticed, Highlight Nation recently announced the launch of a special retro art exhibition in London called Don’t Look Back In Anger. The exhibition will take place at London’s Underdog Gallery, and give a nod to British life in the ’90s. 

As a twenty-something Brit, born and raised in London, I lived through the ’90s and remember it as this happy, carefree time, full of long summers and great TV. I was a child at the time, as was Highlight Nation’s founder, Sumit, and grew up watching Mr Bean and eating pick n mix sweets. I’ve long dreamed of travelling back to such a point of time – partly because I’m scared of growing up, partly because a small part of me loathes today’s internet obsessed culture. Sumit is much the same. 

And so we found ourselves toying with the idea of doing an art exhibition on this very decade. Earlier this year in February, the two of us, along with videographer, Ivan Chardakov, sat down in a bar at the Grosvenor Hotel in Victoria, London. We’d call a meeting to discuss our next art exhibition, and were toying with a few different themes. Initially we were dead set on doing an exhibition dedicated to the singer and musician, Prince. 

Given his recent death, and larger than life status, it was felt that such a focus would be timely, broad and help to draw a large crowd. Problem is – none of us are massive Prince fans. And so, were never personally invested in the concept from the start. What we needed was something we could all relate to. Because, at the end of the day, what’s the point of putting on an exhibition unless you really care about it?

Next, we had idea of doing a show about masculinity centred on the song It’s A Man’s Man’s World by James Brown. What with the gender paygap, and the ongoing #MeToo movement, our thoughts were that such a theme could lend itself really well to art. Then the realisation hit that an exhibition about masculinity could potentially turn away an audience of women who might not buy into its ideals.

It was only after chewing over the legacies of various UK pop stars that the decision to do some ’90s related popped up. We remarked at how cool it might be to have an exhibition that brings into focus the work of British legends like Jamiroquai, Blur, Oasis and the The Spice Girls. I blurted out the phrase “wonder walls” – as a play on the Oasis song – and said we should use it as the name for the event. And for quite some time, it stuck. 

We were all agreement that a British-themed exhibition could work really well for various reasons. It would enable us to A.) Ride all of the national love that the Royal Wedding has brought. And B.) Tap into ideas about British identity put forward by Brexit. What’s great about this theme is the fact that it speaks to lots of different groups of people. Everyone from skaters to mums has something to say about ’90s, and therefore something to take away from an exhibition on the decade. Or, at least, that’s how we see it. 

Fast forward to the present day, and our exhibition is well underway. We have a space booked – the Underdog Gallery – a final name for the exhibition – Don’t Look Back In Anger – a number of artists on-board to contribute, and a list of influencers that we’re currently reaching out to – including bloggers, PRs and potential sponsors. Unlike Wonder Walls, Don’t Look Back In Anger really cuts to the heart of what our exhibition is about – reminiscing on a time gone by with bittersweet longing. 

Our event poster, designed by Franco Grech and Renee Antoinette, brings together six British legends from the ’90s. Renee created the character illustrations and Franco masterminded the overall design. Here are a few images which show the design process: 

Dont look

 

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These next few months will be busy ones, as we shape up for our second event, and we hope you’ll be there to join us for the big day. While we can’t reveal too much about the exhibition just yet, we can guarantee you that it will almost certainly take you down memory lane. Then again, if you never lived through decade, expect to brought up to speed with everything Britain had to offer in the ‘90s.

If, having read this article, you’re interested in taking part, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you! Please get in contact with us at contact@hightlightnation.com. To purchase tickets to our event, CLICK HERE

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