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Artist Corbin Shaw has been using England flags as his canvas for a while, but now in collaboration with BUILDHOLLYWOOD and as part of their ongoing creative project on the street Your Space Or Mine, his take on the St George’s Cross will adorn city streets up and down the nation on billboards displaying the message “GOD SAVE THE TEAM” coinciding with Euro 2024.

Image courtesy of the artist

Corbin’s work aims to challenge and reflect on what England represents today—its diversity, its people, and the often-fragile notions of masculinity that pervade its culture. Growing up in Yorkshire, his art has been strongly influenced by his surroundings — pubs, gyms, and football matches. These familiar scenes are imbued with the rituals and symbols of traditional masculinity, which Shaw deconstructs in his work.

His concept is not about reclaiming the flag, but rather using it as a “Trojan Horse” to deliver messages about national identity. He believes the flag can be seen as abrasive, due to its history in colonialism and right-wing nationalism, his aim is to use it,
overt that and juxtapose it. The billboards play into Corbin’s commitment to making art accessible to others, and the collaboration with BUILDHOLLYWOOD takes that access a step further, displaying his work in physical, public spaces, much
like the flags in question. In a time when national identity and cultural norms are hotly debated, Corbin Shaw’s art provides commentary on these issues in a way that’s somehow light-hearted but heavy-hitting.

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Image courtesy of the artist

“The project started after Euro 2020 after the penalty defeat to Italy in the final. I wanted to show support for Saka, Rashford and Sancho, the guys who missed their penalties. They feel like boys you went to school with. Gareth Southgate has built a team that reflects the nation and its diversity. ‘GOD SAVE THE TEAM’ is about treating the lads as humans, remembering that when the eventual elimination from the tournament comes, we need to protect them. It’s about everyone looking after each other, not just in football but in general. Especially in these times of referendums, awful Tory parties and awful Labour parties, it’s important to look after one another. And these boys, this England team, is one of the very few things you can point to as a form of national pride.”

The collaboration with BUILDHOLLYWOOD will see Corbin’s flags displayed as billboards in cities across the UK including London, Sheffield, Bristol, Brighton, Manchester and Birmingham.

©2024 Corbin Shaw

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