Sharing experiences through art
I have just listened to “The Art of Now: Dangerous places” on Radio 4. An amazing programme about the bravery and work done by artists living and working in conflict zones.
The presenter Errollyn Wallen asks why and what does it achieve. She ultimately concludes.
“Every artist asks, 'what’s the point of this, what good can it do?'. Very important questions. They help us work out what artists can do that nobody else can. All your training as an artist only matters if you can say things clearly, connect to other human beings. For me, great art should speak about things that are important to us all and to bear witness to what it means to be a human in a certain place at a certain time. The world is full of people who are hungry to share their experiences, and through art, can make themselves not only heard but felt. By listening to what they have to say we might just begin to dismantle some of the barriers that divide us.”
I was thinking of this when I painted “Prison”. I wanted to convey the sense that this place is home for many people who have long, lonely and complicated stories of their own. The emptiness of the painting serves to convey the isolation that a lot of those who have to live there feel.
I felt that Errollyn Wallen’s conclusion was a really moving expression of something I feel unites me with other artists. It reminded me of Picasso’s painting “Guernica”, his, almost immediate, response to the casual bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War. Picasso reminds us;
“Painting is not done to decorate apartments. It is an instrument of war.”
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