Can art do good?
I was pondering this subject a while ago, but it’s taken me ages to sit down and write…
We’ve seen unrest in North Africa and the Middle East as citizens attempt to force despised or ineffective leaders out of power.
And in the UK people are taking to the streets to protest at what they see as idealogically-driven Government cuts.
I wonder if Art has the power to do good, on a personal level or on a wider scale?
Starting near to home, Jenny (Timms, my Vitreus Art partner in crime) and I were invited to take part in one of a series of exhibitions staged to raise awareness and contribute money to the Watford New Hope Trust.
This is a charity which helps find homeless people places to live and jobs to do. Have a look at:
During the exhibition I spent time with people who, through no fault of their own, have become homeless. These were not the drinkers and gamblers we often assume make up the UK’s street populations. Instead, these were people who were holding down jobs and paying their taxes.
Illness or redundancy or a combination of disasters have turned these people’s lives upside down – leaving them reliant on charity and support groups to survive. The New Hope Trust provides shelter, routes back in to employment and emotional as well as practical support.
And to its credit, Watford Town Council is supporting the NHT by facilitating and promoting art events, often in empty shops in the town.
Details of forthcoming events can be found here.
May Ayres – sculptor and artist
Thinking more about raising awareness of injustice and state-sponsored aggression, I’ve been working on a website for artist May Ayres.
May creates compelling work, in sculpture and many other media, illustrating unpalatable but often ignored aspects of the actions of Western states’ actions in other parts of the world.
Have a look at May’s website – link here.
While reviewing images for May’s site, I was particularly affected by pieces depicting the behaviour of Allied forces in Fallujah in Iraq.
I was also moved by her piece ‘Proconsul’, describing the role of John Negroponte in the suppression of protests by human rights workers, trade union activists and academics in occupied Iraq.
Time and again politicians have carried out acts in our name that are contrary to a supposedly peace-making agenda.
Because of this it’s important that, when the truth emerges from behind the spin, the harsh realities are communicated widely.
Art has the power to bring to life concepts that fail to engage or ignite on paper.
Artists like May Ayres are doing us all a service in helping to present a point of view that may be uncomfortable to us.
Perhaps we’d rather not know, but we still need to know!
Do visit the New Hope Trust’s website, and have a look at May’s work – and do leave a comment once you have!
Keep creating – Mike