Prague in March

6 Dec

On another trip with my university students to Prague, the city felt more familiar this time. Armed with the usual art supplies but well seasoned coming off the back of Coast of Teeth, my reportage book with Tom Sykes, my drawing skills were sharp. The city has an old, magical feel to it. The people have a worn in feel, like a comfortable jacket or leather purse. We arrived a month after the invasion of Ukraine and anti war, anti Putin sentiment was visible in large signs declaring ‘Hands off Ukraine Putin’ and ‘Stand with Ukraine.’ Of course many people in Prague today could remember the Velvet Revolution and many more, can remember the transition to democracy and the slow release of the mental shackles of Stalinism. And yet, like a lot of Europe, tragedy and hard won battles have given the nations their essential character. Something overly soft and weak pervades England in way that the Czech Republic is not. It is battle hardened but also battle strengthened. Of course it is a wonderful thing to not question peace and security and embrace it with the familiarity of family. Many do not have that and the powerful anti war messaging came from a place of understanding that limitations on freedom and oppression makes the dream of boring old peace, a delirious one. The war rages on and Prague is not perfect but the people have an etched understanding that things can get worse and they keep one eye to the east, just in case.

Enjoy these drawings. It was an inspiring time and the narrative of the city has crept in. A city, like all, that puts rich and poor in a stew together that is one part repulsion and one part intoxication.

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