Edinburgh’s Collective gallery kindly hosted one of our Digesting Politics meals, which rounded off their summer school, Ground Meets Horizon. The full reading list for the summer school is here.

The five day summer school and its guest speakers, including Angela McRobbie and Emma Hedditch, explored the role of art, artists and institutions within political action and activism, and the tensions and possibilities within this.

We held a workshop before the meal in which we read a text by Beatrice Warde, which explores the power of the printed word and written text as opposed to the loudspeaker. Then we read and dissected the day’s newspapers, discussing how to think critically about the news and how we might be able to challenge how we are presented with it, or interact with those who create it. Keep it Complex presented who owns and runs the newspapers, and introduced some prominent journalists. With the students, we took the newspapers apart, and the students shared opinions on stories they found pertinent.

Then we all made salad together!

For the first time, we used our new stickers, designed to eliminate awkwardness, which read:  “feel free to talk to me”,  “I don’t want to talk right now”, and “I’m fine, even though I’m not talking or smiling”.

The leftovers were kindly taken by the Edinburgh Student Housing Co-operative.


Keep It Complex added a sprinkle of politics to MIMA’s weekly community lunches on 14/12/2017.

We brought cupcakes with the faces of local politicians, MPs, MEPs, councillors, the police and crime commissioner and the Mayor.

We also gave people pre-digested political opinions: short sentences and words about art and politics, which people took out of a lucky dip bucket. The challenge was to smoothly sneak in your sentence during your lunch time conversation.

Here are some of the words we prepared AND some of the words we heard during the community lunch.

We won’t tell you which is which – you’ll have to guess. Send us your answers: [email protected] and if you get 90% right, we’ll post you a Michael Gove cupcake.

“I once met Theresa May.”

“It always rains in Middlesbrough.”

“The NHS is the best health service in the world.”

“Let’s work the queue.”

“I love coming here, because the food is so good.”

“We make food for our constituents.”

“Well, I fancy being Prime Minister, I’d tell all them foreigners to leave.”

“You should go on a cruise, it’s great.”

“No deal is better than a bad deal.”

“What is useful art?”

“I don’t read the news”

“I’m not going to eat that Boris Johnson!”

“I’ll maybe come back and look at the art.”

“What’s the single market? Can you explain this to me?”

“Who is the Mayor of Middlesbrough?”

“Different strokes for different folks”

“Are you from South Africa?”

“Strong and stable”

“Usually all the food is gone at 20 past 1.”

“I’ve never voted in my life.”

“This useful art thing is just rubbish. They’re scared of art.”

“People here don’t feel comfortable talking about politics.”

“My English isn’t so great.”

“Is this a raffle ticket?”

“This might be the only day that people have somewhere to go to.”

“I’m sorry, but I have to disagree with you.”

“Jeremy Corbyn should shave.”

“The pound is worthless now.”

“I don’t fancy going to Germany, its just too dull.”

“I often get into arguments on social media.”

“Ah there’ll always be people you don’t see eye to eye with, you just give them a white berth.”

“I’m going to the weaving later and then to the cinema. It’s brilliant.”

“Brexit means Brexit”


Keep it complex headed up to Birmingham to have some tea and Teressa May cake at Grand Union. Our local supermarket had refused to print Teressa May on a Cake, we’re not sure why, something about not being able to print people they recognize. So we sent a photo of Teresa eating to Dave at Eat My Face, and made some great Teresa May cupcakes to get conversation started.

We took up some inspiring books about organizing with others, think like the Seeing Red catalogue about the feminist poster workshops, as well as some local and national newspapers. People looked at these when they didn’t feel like chatting.

Some people came to chat with Keep it Complex, others joined us after coming to see the current exhibition at Grand Union.

We talked about lots of things including development in Birmingham. One person came all the way from the countryside outside of Birmingham, he wanted to start a political utopia with a flat hierarchy. Someone else wanted to talk about policies at art organizations.

Grand Union also made us some cucumber sandwiches, they were great hosts.