Refugees Welcome, by VladyArt, September 2015 Kalamaria/Thessaloniki, Greece. A red carpet entry to Europe: plastic pipes, gold paint, red cloth, naval rope, wooden finials for curtain rods, paper plates.
From mid-2016 we Handshakers worked with the London-based group Dialogue Collective to build a collaborative show for Munich Jewellery Week 2017. In a flurry of inter-hemispherical bonding we exchanged words and images and Skyped into the day/night to tease out the form of our shared creative endeavour.
Conversely, over the same months, the democratic Westernised world slammed hard to the right and proceeded to unravel decades of hard-won progress. Social justice and human rights gains that seemed inviolable were summarily reversed, sparking dismay and mass protest.
Woman at the Czarny protest, Poland, following proposals to effectively ban safe, legal abortion (measures also proposed by then nominee – now President – Trump)
Locally in NZ, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake was followed by aftershocks, flooding and days of dark skies that felt post-apocalyptic indeed.
At times like these, it is challenging to stay informed without succumbing to paralysis. And doubly challenging to focus on an art practice, or to see the point of doing so (even within the compelling field of contemporary jewellery)…
Existential crisis, much? Thankfully, in the City Library, I stumble across this nugget:
Playing for Time – making art as if the world mattered. Lucy Neal, Oberon Books Ltd, London 2015
The book is a compendium of work by over 50 radical, committed and far-seeing artists.
In particular I am affected by John Jordan’s essay On the tightrope between art and activism: Five promises (which you can read here in full – only 4 pages, including notes).
For a week I copy out quotes as I read, then sift, shuffle, to reach a place from which, finally, I can begin:
Above: Quotes from Playing for Time:
1. FROM NOW ON, MY WORK WILL TRY TO BE AS BEAUTIFULLY USEFUL AS POSSIBLE
John Jordan, On the Tightrope Between Art and Activism, p 199
2. DECIDING THAT POETIC VISION IS OF PRACTICAL USE TO THE WORLD IS IMPORTANT
Emily Johns, How To Keep Going, p 419,
3. IT IS NECESSARY TO STILL CREATE BEAUTY, TO STILL FIND JOY
Dougie Strang, Singing in a Dark Time, p 135