The Pigs Will Survive


Ever since I first saw it, I’ve been completely enamored with the drawing below of a very dejected looking family about to enter a DIY shelter that can’t possibly be very useful, which comes from Protect and Survive,” a 1976 leaflet from the British government on surviving a nuclear strike. The guide advises,

All at home must go to the fall-out room and stay inside the inner refuge, keeping the radio tuned for Government advice and instructions.

Stay in your refuge

The dangers will be so intense that you may all need to stay inside your inner refuge in the fall-out room for at least forty-eight hours. If you need to go to the lavatory, or to replenish food or water supplies, do not stay outside your refuge for a second longer than is necessary. After forty-eight hours the danger from fall-out will lessen -but you could still be risking your life by exposure to it. The longer you spend in your refuge the better. Listen to your radio.

DO NOT GO OUTSIDE until the radio tells you it is safe to do so.


Unfortunately in the time between building this shelter and huddling inside it for a few days in the glow of the bombs on the horizon, pigs have taken over the shelter (in my version anyway)… I first painted this a few years ago but wasn’t very happy with it so I’m doing a new version. I prepped the canvas in a primer mix of gesso, crushed tortilla chips, oats, and stale crackers.



  1. Wldfire_1 wrote:

    I love how you work with such different mediums!! :)

    Monday, November 5, 2007 at 7:07 pm | Permalink
  2. sarah wrote:

    sometimes i think i love you. you’re so damn creative!

    Monday, November 5, 2007 at 8:18 pm | Permalink
  3. estrojenn wrote:

    i hope the pigs don’t survive.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 12:06 am | Permalink
  4. estrojenn wrote:

    but only because i’m vegetarian and i know people will torture and kill them.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 8:27 am | Permalink
  5. Melissa wrote:

    Fun fact: When they were testing nuclear bombs on pacific atolls, they put pigs at various distances from ground zero. Pig flesh is the closest to human flesh in the animal kingdom, so bombed pig flesh shows roughly what happens to people at various distances from the explosion. (Shaved goats, I think, were used to approximate what would happen to human skin.) Incidentally, cannibals also confirm that humans taste somewhat like pork.

    So, unless it was intentional, that’s actually really, really appropriate and awesome.

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 8:54 am | Permalink
  6. Waiting4Arson wrote:

    um… all I can think of is the NIN song…

    now doesn’t that make you feel better?
    the pigs have won tonight
    now they can all sleep soundly
    and everything is all right

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007 at 9:33 pm | Permalink
  7. jamie wrote:

    it looks like my ceiling (old school “popcorn”)

    Wednesday, November 7, 2007 at 1:39 am | Permalink
  8. Marshall wrote:

    That mix of gesso, oats and tortilla chips has got to be the least archival paint scheme I’ve ever heard of.

    Isn’t “Protect and Survive” one of the primary source materials for the film When the Wind Blows? The minute I saw that shelter, I immediately thought of that film.

    Thursday, November 8, 2007 at 1:16 pm | Permalink
  9. mandy wrote:

    dryer lint works pretty well mixed with gesso, too.

    Thursday, November 8, 2007 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  10. Charlotte wrote:

    I have a friend who is seriously obsessed with British history from the cold war period, and we were recently talking about the protect and survive leaflets, amongst other things related to the government advice given to the general public at the time.

    Anyway, he says that the protect and survive leaflets were not designed to protect the general public at all, but rather to falsely reassure them that they have a chance at survival. (Similar advice apparently included covering yourself with white paint to deflect the blast, although I am not sure if that is folklore!) But basically, the general public were urged to stay indoors, so that if they were wiped out by a nuclear blast, there wouldn’t be (many) dead bodies out littering the streets. Obviously, for royalty, the goverment, the rich and priviledged, they would have had access to specially built bomb shelters, but the government couldn’t afford to do this for everybody and so had to be selective.

    Well, there’s a bit of saturday afternoon trivia for you anyway!

    Saturday, December 15, 2007 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] it for another friend. I’ve posted about it in the past — it’s titled “The Pigs Will Survive” and is based on an old nuclear war survival booklet. There was a previous aborted attempt to […]

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *