We recently got the chance to chat with our friends, Matthew King and Petya Kapralova who are the people behind Breggsit Island, an online protest cartoon on Brexit. Matt is a passionate British artist who enjoys animation, design and generally arty projects with his partner Petya, a no nonsense Bulgarian designer and metalsmith. After 11 years together in the UK, they recently moved to the Bulgarian capital Sofia to explore a different culture and escape the insanity of Brexit.
What is the reason behind Breggsit Island?
We created Breggsit Island in response to the anger and polarisation of Brexit. We are passionate “Remoaners” but feel it is important to bring some levity to the whole situation and to bring people back to a point where they can have a rational discussion on the topic.
Some of the many great cartoons from Breggsit Island
Breggsit Island is an adorable world we have created and filled with everything we love about the UK – colourful inhabitants, green hills, great beer and fish wrapped in newspaper. Unfortunately, Breggsit Island is currently under merciless attack from the Cluckers of Doom – Greed, Fear and Woe… I’m sure that doesn’t sound familiar at all!
Breggsit Island is a platform for us to share satirical artwork from like minded creative individuals and supporters of the European Union and distribute our own brand of adorable satire in the hopes of inspiring discussion and understanding between both sides of the issue. To put it simply, we hope to spread the message that the world is way too small to hate our own neighbours.
Do you think Brexit will actually go ahead?
As it stands we believe that Brexit will happen. However there is still plenty of time for things to change and as the political and economic situations become more challenging the British people have the right to and may well change their mind. If our politicians have the courage to recognise this change of heart, things could turn out very differently. As we have witnessed very recently though, instability and insanity may be all we get in the foreseeable future whatever we may hope for.
What has gone wrong in Britain?
The issue in Britain is the same as in the rest of the world. The ‘political establishment’ has failed large swathes of the population too consistently. Too many people have been left behind and those who have been left behind are looking for someone to blame. With Brexit, the blame has been shifted in the short term to Europe as the source of all our woes. Now that Brexit is happening, the blame is shifting again, a situation we just saw play out in the general election.
How did you guys meet?
Petya and I met on our first day at art college and 11 years later we are planning our wedding and our lives together. We know our relationship, our personal and professional development and our view of the world have only been possible because we have taken advantage of the opportunities the European Union has to offer. We hope to continue to have the freedom to be full Europeans and citizens of the world.
Why did you decide to emigrate to Bulgaria?
The short answer is Brexit. The long answer I guess is more about a disillusionment with life in the UK. The challenges of buying a home, finding a job which affords you the opportunity to truly grow and progress and frustration with the challenges facing European citizens just trying to exercise their right to work and pay taxes in the UK. Luckily we have options and support in Bulgaria and felt it was time to try a different path.
Do you miss home?
We miss my family and our friends, but online communications mean that a good old chin wag is never far away. We now live in a vibrant destination city that all our friends want to visit, so we have no shortage of visitors who come to see the city and bring me care packets of Bourbons, Custard Creams and Fig rolls!
What is life like in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is very different from what I am used to, the pace of life is a little slower and much less stressful. Some of the bureaucracy is frustratingly tedious and slow and Bulgarians are not the biggest fans of queuing (I am working on that). My favourite thing about Bulgaria, apart from our amazing view of the mountains, the food, the drink, the history and the culture, is the people. As soon as you say ‘Zdrasti’ (Bulgarian for Hello) Bulgarians open up and can’t wait to give you advice, assistance and food.
Matt and Petya
I have managed to make friends with all my local shop keepers who indulge my terrible Bulgarian and try to teach me as many new words as we can mime to each other. This results in a wide range of conversation topics from why Bulgarian women are so beautiful to miming the concept of ‘ripe’ in the fruit shop and I love every minute of it.
Is the cost of living high?
Compared to the cost of living in the UK it is very low, but remains proportional to local salaries. The major difference is the cost of food and restaurants, Bulgarians love going out to eat and it is much more affordable than in the UK.
How is the EU perceived?
The EU is viewed favourably in general, and though Bulgaria in some respects gets a pretty raw deal, particularly in terms of trade, the low cost of living and low taxes have brought a lot of foreign investment with many large internationals establishing offices in Sofia.
What are the politics like?
Bulgarians view politicians as something to be endured and with a constantly shifting and challenging political landscape Bulgarians seem to in general ignore the politicians and get on with their lives, which seems like an approach we may soon adopt in the UK.
Would you recommend Bulgaria as place to live?
Bulgaria has so much to offer and has been so welcoming to me that I would definitely recommend it as a place to visit and if you love it as much as me, move here. The culture is rich, the food is bountiful and the rakia is endless. It certainly has quite a few quirks, but then again, so do we.
Do you have long term plans to stay there?
Our plan is definitely to stay in Bulgaria for the foreseeable future and though this may change, I hope it doesn’t as I am extremely happy here and definitely don’t want to leave until I have managed to learn the language properly … which will probably take quite a while.