Art for the end of civilisation

Everything that was worth fighting for

Birds, cyanotype and marker pen on watercolour paper, by Jo Howell, 2020

Back in the olden days when our country was facing another time of reckoning; a fat man with no hair, and a cigar said, if not art? Then what the hell are we fighting for? 

I paraphrase terribly, but I’m sure that you can all work out who the man was, and that the last time of reckoning to which I refer was the second world war. Like the great book the War of the Worlds, we find that our greatest enemy is also our oldest one. A simple rogue protein based virus. 

Not each other. 

Let that sit with you for a while. It unites us all. We are one species versus the unknown. How will we come out of the other side of this? 

Test paper sculpture with birds, 2020

I don’t want things to go back to be as they were before the “Great Pause”. We were living in a reality made out of smoke and mirrors. A species completely lost in illusions of grandeur. We are in, and of this world. Symbiotic. We are nothing without our Earth. Yet here we are, hidden away in our burrows, away from the systems that we have built, and we can finally see how she bounces back when we’re not wandering around fucking everything up.

We have been through many catastrophic events throughout our time here. There have been ice ages, droughts, floods, asteroids, plagues, and famine. We know about human experiences from the past by the artefacts and the art that they left behind. On of our more basic human instincts is to absorb our experience and to make it into something tangible. Or if not tangible methods then into songs and music. Creating things helps us to make sense of everything around us.

We need to come outside, together, ready to face the crumbling constructs of capitalism, and prepared to build something far better. Something fit for purpose. When we get through this, and we will get through this, we need to find our compassion. We need to think about how we will protect the vulnerable people in our society. We really need to start calling out the charlatans who have made us fight between ourselves, whilst they made off with the family silver. We need to remember the good things that we learned from our isolation. Don’t be afraid to self reflect. But, also do not be afraid of the necessary adjustments that we are going to have to make to make a better world. 

Digitally inverted work, 2020

The future should be built on compassion, and not on consumerism. We don’t need it anymore. We’re just giving power to our greed, and in doing that we continue the cycle of self harm. Our entire species needs to evolve. If one fails, then we all fail. I think that the art that we will create in this time, and in the time immediately afterwards, will be about our profound need for each other. And, that realisation could be the bringer of great change.

Socks and pj’s the new work uniform…

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