By Scott Mainwaring
Since 1994 British visual artist Angus Watt has been making elaborate flag displays for the annual international music and arts festival WOMAD (World of Music, Arts, and Dance). His work has since spread to other festivals around the world, including Mysteryland and the New Zealand Arts Festival.
Often we think of flag design in the context of a social or political group desiring an enduring symbol to represent it. The single design is meant to be replicated many times, often to be mass produced and mass marketed. Watt’s festival flags are created in an entirely different context: that of a festival or other arts patron wanting to create a unique, one-time-only, aesthetic experience at a grand scale. For Watt this involves making, by hand, dozens to hundreds of silk flags per project. He estimates he’s made 17,000 flags since 1994. No two flags are alike, though for each project he typically works around a unifying, project-specific theme.
This short film by Emma Plunkett provides a sense of Watt’s flag art:
For more information, check out:
- Capturing the Ethos of Womad in Flags, by Silvia Radan, in the Kaleej Times (UAE), 2009.
- Flags flying high in a huge visual impact, by Felicity Ross, in the Taranaki Daily News, 2010.
- anguswatt.net, the artist’s website.