Originally made in 2005 for an exhibition called 'Offer Must End Soon', there is an additional entry on this website about this art work that can be found by clicking this link here. This entry also includes a film of the piece.
The images on the following pages document the work installed in 'Remnants of Utopia' and are accompanied by the text that was displayed with the work.
The former British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan was famous for the line “You’ve never had so good!” It was the late 1950’s and the British post war economy was booming, but MacMillan was resisting a redistribution of wealth and urged wage restraint. Crucial to the success of that economy, was Britain’s arms industry.
Photo Doug Atfield
Blue water was a short range nuclear missile that Britain developed in the early 1960’s. After it was put into production the plan was to sell it to other NATO countries. Unfortunately for Macmillan’s government nobody was interested. When they realised they weren’t going to make any money out the project, it was scrapped.
I had a history teacher at school in the early 1980’s who predicted the end of the cold war based on economics. A couple of years later Ronald Reagan’s ‘Strategic Defence initiative’ (known as Star wars) effectively bankrupted the Soviet Union who could not financially afford to escalate the arms race. He argued that this was the real motivation behind president Gorbachov’s willingness to end the cold war.
Photo Doug Atfield
Learning about the cold war in school history lessons always seemed a bit strange while it was still going on. World war two was also still relatively close to our lived experience as most of us had grandparents and even parents who had lived through it all. This combined pool of related veterans was always a great resource for any history teachers ‘show and tell’ lesson. So it was, that one day we all arrived at school with our world war two trophies consisting of medals, gas masks and spent bullets. One of the larger calibre bullets was eventually confiscated when one of the teachers noticed it was in fact live.
The craft design and technology teacher told us that when he was a teenager it was quite easy to get hold of live bullets if you knew where to look. The favourite source of amusement for him and his friends was to hold one between two bricks, hit the back end with a hammer and nail- and fire it out to sea.
Today in Britain Bluewater is more commonly associated with a shopping centre on the M25 in Kent.