Don’t underestimate the power of creative arts in troubled times.
By Barry Lord @Bazneto
Has it really been twelve months since we said slan to 2016?
It was a year that robbed us of many beloved pop cultural icons, inflicted economic uncertainty upon the population of Great Britain and Ireland alike and heralded a new breed of political discourse; petty, vindictive, childish, facilitated in part by social media and perfectly personified by the current incumbent of the Oval Office.
Bowie, Brexit and Trump. Talk about Triple Punch (for anyone old enough, Triple Punch was an arcade game from the early 80s).
But as it mercifully drew to a close, we breathed a collective sigh and with the optimism of a supporter of a perpetually relegation-threatened football club, we revelled in the hope that a new year brings and earnestly believed that 2017 might deliver the golden dawn we were hoping for.
Sadly, my abiding memories of this year will include the murder of 23 children at an Arianna Grande concert at the Manchester Arena in May, reports of 9,000 homeless on the streets of our capital city and another failed World Cup campaign which, in light of other events this year, is pretty low down the rung.
On the plus side, did you all enjoy The Last Jedi?
This is not to be in any way flippant because art, throughout the years, has been the sanctuary which many seek in times of strife and the power of creativity has been an irresistible force for good in many ways. And what’s more, good art endures.
Art can be the mirror that reflects a society ravaged by war, the politics of greed and entitlement and the consequences of a government asleep at the wheel. Many artists used the difficult times they lived in to produce their best work, often at huge personal and professional cost.
In Nazi occupied France, writers and philosophers such as Sartre and Camus went to great lengths to present the politically divided country of their birth as it was. A land made up of rebels and collaborators. Both were censored (Camus died in a suspicious car crash in 1960) but thanks to their efforts, we can all still read Crime Passional and The Outsider today.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt also recognised the power of the artist’s paintbrush when he helped endorse the Public Works of Art Project during the Great Depression. Many of the paintings depicted the landscape of the time and its inhabitants; the industry workers, the farmers, the families. They reflected resilience in the face of hardship and Roosevelt adorned the White House with thirty two pieces, which still hang there today.
So if you are artistically inclined, now might be the time to pick up a camera, a pen, a paintbrush and use the fuel of injustice to help create something long lasting. Whatever it is that arouses your anger; the shameful homeless situation in our country, the adherence to the status quo favoured by our current government, the justice system that stigmatises whistle-blowers. It’s fertile ground and its being ploughed. But fresh perspectives are always welcome and more than that, they’re necessary.
Anyway, it was just an idea. Now I’m off to my local cinema to see It’s a Wonderful Life for the 400th time. It gives the world a nicer hue. Merry Christmas to all and happy 2018.