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Jill Gibbon: War Mart

There is a long, respectable tradition of official war art where artists are commissioned to draw in warzones. War Mart reverses this tradition. Instead of drawing in war zones, Jill draws undercover in arms fairs, and trade shows for military equipment.

Here, weapons are promoted to almost anyone who wants to buy - dictators, repressive regimes and both sides
of disputes. The products range from missiles for the war on terror, to tear-gas for the Arab Spring, all offered with wine, champagne, and pretzels. Jill draws illicitly, so the cover is as much a part of the project as the drawings.

Jill draws in A6 conscertina sketchbooks which are small enough to hide but can be opened
out to work on a larger scale.

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War and repression are big business. Arms companies expanded into multinationals in the late C20th as part of wider processes of globalisation. With few ties to any state, they sell to both sides of disputes, unstable governments, and repressive regimes. Most of these deals take place in arms fairs - trade shows for military equipment. Here, bombs, drones, tanks and guns are promoted like luxury goods. Hostesses give away show catalogues, sweets and condoms.

Products are promoted for each political moment - heavy arsenal for the war on terror, 'less lethal' weaponry for the Arab Spring. New lines are launched with spectacular displays - a fashion show alongside racks of missiles, a string quartet on the back of a of military truck. And between the vast bombs, tables are laid with champagne and pretzels.

Jill Gibbon
Artist and activist