Following in the footsteps of those before him, accrediting both Banksy and Pure Evil to name but a few, Glastonbury 2024 lays a path for Nigerian-born, London-based artist SOLDIER to have his way with the coveted Cockpits. 

If you’re unfamiliar with The Cockpit, it can only be described as an area within Glastonbury’s vibrant Shangri La area reserved for the works of well-known artists from across the globe. In fact, it was Banksy who first took take paint and stencil to the aircraft’s outer shall in a bid to create something truly memorable. For Glastonbury 2024, SOLDIER takes inspiration from many different meaning residing beneath the umbrella term ‘festival’. 

Having grown up in Nigeria, SOLDIER’s preliminary perception takes on a traditional image – similar to that of the Iri ji Festival (“new-yam eating”) as practised throughout Western Africa to symbolise the harvest’s end, masquerades or one of four new market days within the Igbo Calendar. SOLDIER aimed to bridge the gap between his understanding of a festival from a personal perspective and England’s Glastonbury; both celebrated equally, and by humans in their hundreds of thousands. 

The playful figures, anonymous though so familiar as dancing children, were initially captured by SOLDIER as photographs during a festival in Lagos, Nigeria, before being converted into silhouettes. Real. Bliss. Happiness. The epitome of innocence and joy is captured in freedom of movement, not only that encapsulated by the young dancers but an emotion replicated by ourselves as adults once the festivities and music get underway

Beyond the surface, this piece is for the children on a global scale currently unable to truly fulfil their blissful experience of innocence, unable to dance, play and sing. Those children who don’t know, or will soon forget how it feel to enjoy a festival in any respect as a direct result of conflict and hardships. Hence, the presence of internationally recognised peace symbols at the heart of each figure. 

Instead of taking its usual form, SOLDIER’s camouflage adopts a staggered approach with each colour residing side-by-side, silhouette-by-silhouette. Quite literally trapping their outlines in a permanent and restrictive state of conflict, as they dance through the pain. Not even war can hamper a child’s natural hunt for freedom. 

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