Enemy Alien

News of Mussolini and the spread of Fascism bleeps from Broadcasting House. Next door, the Reverend of All Souls unites the congregation as they pray for daily bread and delivery from evil. Soon, the rashes of black shirts in Italy and brown in your Fatherland will blister and rage. You will weep and flee.

Degenerate is what they called you. You painted the wrong pictures and your kind are still waiting for the Messiah. Your forefathers told Jesus that his claim on God as his father was blasphemous – a conviction, the reaction to which would still cost you dearly nearly 2000 years later.

You never satisfied popular tastes for reassuring imagery of ‘valiant’ leaders or wholesome families glowing golden and Arian with the reflected light from ripened cornfields.

It did not occur to you to paint such fictions. You were in love of course. In love with colour and its voice. ‘’From colour comes the drawing’’ you said, and from the drawing comes the expression, the insight and the story.

The ‘felt’ story. Persecuted and afraid you got out while you could and who could blame you? And so,
here we are at the top of Regent Street. Safe for a while between Mortimer Street and Cave Place.
Safe between your past and future.

The gentle stream of abstracted shapes in subdued primary and secondary hues motor along the dark blue road. Cars halt obediently at the tall iron post with its alizarin crimson illumination. Nearby, and out of sight, a different light beckons. This time its broken cobalt blue surface reveals yellow hues that signal green for ‘go’.

Two years later and two miles away at Westminster, the Home Secretary will tune his wireless and listen to what he already knows.

“This is the voice of the BBC speaking to you from London. Good evening. Foreign nationals living in Britain who are considered to be ‘Enemy Aliens” will be interned under military guard until the end of the war. This measure will be necessary in order to prevent espionage and the undermining of our national security”.

Hinchcliffe & Hodgson, 2008. After Martin Bloch’s painting of 1938: All Souls and the BBC.