In this episode of “Meet the Londer” we meet the artists from Quiet British Accent. Sharon and Jason Gale are known for their “Penny drops”. They leave painted old pennies hidden in the streets for some lucky ones to find them. In this interview Sharon and Jason tell us more about their life as artists and share some nice London spots with us. Enjoy meeting the two!
Hi Sharon and Jason, please introduce yourselves to my readers.
Quiet British Accent – Sharon and Jason Gale
We are Sharon Gale and Jason Gale.
Sharon: I’m from Edmonton, North London.
Jason: I’m from Devon, although I left there for London when I was eighteen.
Since when have you worked as an artist duo?
We’ve been working together as QUIET BRITISH ACCENT since 2011.
What’s your background. Did you study something arty?
Sharon: My background is in fashion and graphic design. I studied Fashion & Textiles at Southgate College after I left school.
Jason: I studied Graphic Design at Barnet College and worked in graphics.
Where do you live?
We currently live in Hertfordshire.
What’s the story behind your name “Quiet British Accent”?
Sharon: I was cutting up some old magazine adverts for a personal project and the words Quiet, British and Accent fell onto the table, it was as simple as that.
Jason: We’ve kind of grown into our name (sometimes shortened to QbA).
Jason: I had an old 1d penny blu-tacked to my computer for ages before we did anything with it. I think it was just waiting to be noticed.
Sharon: I remember we discussed painting on things that were circular. Old pennies seem democratic and carry a weight of history with them at the same time.
Where do get them from?
Jason: People donate them to us and my Dad knew someone who had 10kgs worth. Which helped.
What’s behind the Penny drops?
Jason: They’re our calling card. Since 2015, we’ve been leaving painted pre-decimal pennies on the street for people to find. They have alternative expansions (topical or irreverent) of our QbA acronym painted over the monarch’s head. In 2019, we also started painting street pennies on the tails side. These feature slogans, or ‘tales’.
Sharon: We like leaving art on the streets as anyone can find it. We sometimes stick paste-ups on the street, featuring our pennies and slogans.
How do you divide the work between the two of you?
Sharon: It’s really 50/50. We both paint pennies. I particularly like doing the 3D making, textile art and stop frame animation.
Jason: Our lettering is mostly hand drawn and we have a bit of an interest in vernacular, or amateur, lettering. I’m totally 2D, so I enjoy the drawing and painting process.
Which message do you want to share with your works?
Jason: Our work often nods to current affairs (it’s hard not to at the moment), including protest art and pop culture; sometimes it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek. We like vernacular language and slang, within the framing device of old pennies.
Sharon: We’re interested in slogans, the value of art and the concept of change. We hope that it comes across with a bit of humour.
Where and when can we see your work in an exhibition?
Jason: We had a few exhibitions lined up this Spring/Summer, which have been postponed due to the current pandemic. Hopefully, once it’s safe to go out again, our work will feature at Upfest 2020, the Art Car Boot Fair, ‘Small Wonders’ at Well Hung Gallery, ‘For The Love Of Money’ @ArtyFacts, The Old Kent Market, Margate and ‘Around The World In 80 Artists’ with UK Colab, London.
Do you have signature colours? If yes, why have you chosen them?
Sharon: We impose a limited colour palette of red, white and pale blue (along with black and greys) on ourselves.
Jason: We just really like the self-limitation. The colours actually came from an old commission which was about football colours, but don’t tell anyone, heh. It’s kinda Man Utd v Man City.
Where do you see yourselves in 5 years?
Sharon: Painting an enormous penny on the side of a building (although I’m not sure how).
Jason: Painting ever smaller things on pennies.
What was the best advice you were ever given?
Sharon: Always be yourself.
Jason: Don’t dye your hair, it’ll fall out.
Quiet British Accent about London
What’s a must-see sight in London?
Sharon: A boat ride on the River Thames by River Bus; Embankment to Greenwich.
Jason: The sun setting on the East Stand at Leyton Orient FC.
3 words to describe London
Sharon: Colourful, busy, immense
Jason: Quick. Busy. Alive.
The best museum in London is…?
Sharon: For me it’s the Victoria and Albert Museum,
Jason: Ditto. See, we DO agree sometimes.
The coolest bar is…?
Sharon: Not sure about the coolest bar, but I rather like the ‘Prospect of Whitby’ pub in Wapping. It lays claim to being the site of the oldest riverside tavern, dating from around 1520.
Jason: The Birkbeck Tavern, Leyton.
Favourite part of London?
Sharon: Borough Market & Vinopolis
Jason: East and North East London.
Which is your favourite arty spot in London?
Sharon: The street art in East London never disappoints
Jason: I know it’s changed beyond all recognition, but yes Shoreditch and Bethnal Green still have charm.
Have you done pennydrops in London?
Sharon: We’ve done lots of #pennydrops in London (mainly because it’s not far from where we’re based).
How did you decide where to go for this?
Jason: We don’t always have a plan, if we are heading in to London for a particular reason, we often take a penny with us. If we see a good spot, we’ll place it out and take a photo to put on social media.
Sharon: There have been times though, where we’ve pre-planned pennydrops on social media and walked around the streets (in the rain) for ages until we’ve found the perfect site. We sometimes suffer for our art 🙂
Some fun stuff about Quiet British Accent
Which is your favourite ice-cream flavour?
Sharon: Rum and Raisin
Jason: Something pink.
Gin and Tonic or Pimm’s?
Milk in first or last?
Sharon: Always last.
Jason: Definitely last.
Favourite Tube line?
Sharon: Does DLR count? It’s fun to be at the front.
Jason: The Overground.
Quiet British Accent on Social Media
Wonna know more about Sharon and Jason and their work? Then have a look at the website from Quiet British Accent. And follow them on Instagram (@quietbritishaccent), Twitter (@QuietBritAcc) or Facebook (@quietbritishaccent).
Dear Sharon and Jason, thanks for taking your time for this interview. From now on I will keep my eyes open for a penny drop in London! Hope to catch up very soon!
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