7 Apr 2018

This is an idea that I’ve had for some time now, but I ran from it. When it first came to me in 2016 in the wake of news stories that made me literrally sob in my kitchen, I think I felt too raw to even look at #somelivesmatter. The idea of delving into all the painful stories of discrimination and injustice against so many people just made me shut down and try to outrun my own idea. I can do catharsis on canvas but why seek out so much pain?

It was the summer of 2016. Brexit just happened and I wasn’t sure whether the people that smiled at me during the school run were the same ones who didn’t want any immigrants in their country. Then just as I began to regain my equilibrium, the news reported the murder of a different black man in the US every day for (what felt like) a month. The hubby would come home and announce what he’d heard. I’d say, “but that was yesterday” and he’d correct me with, “No luv. This is a different man.” It was like the worst Groundhog day on perpetual repeat. In the midst of all this, I lost one of (what I thought was) my dearest friends because they didn’t want to hear about my struggles with my new reality. In short, I got dumped by a close friend because I ‘woke’ up. I still think of 2016 as the year I woke up, left life’s remedial class and started finally paying attention.

In the midst of that the idea came to me – why not paint the injustice? Why not use your art to speak the way words cannot. Art can show there are glaring expections to All Lives Matter. Art can show how little black, refugee, children, women, muslim, gay lives matter… and then I began to think – who else doesn’t matter? It snowballed from there.

I think one of my greatest strengths is knowing what I can and can’t do and I know without a doubt my overly empathic heart would have drowned me in depression if I tried to undertake this project on my own. I will forever be grateful for the eye-openeing experience I had at the Soul of a Nation exhibition at Tate Modern, London. As I moved through the exhibits and got a wee bit teary-eyed at some (“Fred Hampton’s Door 2, 1975” by Dana C Chandler, and David Hammons’ “Injustice Case 1970″  were two artworks that literally stopped me in my tracks!) I noticed something, a lot of these artists operated in collectives, or were given gallery time in groups according to their location. And it was then that (the obvious) hit me – no one said you had to do this alone!

From that moment on, #somelivesmatter began to blossom in my mind. It grew and grew into a mammoth project that I knew was going to be a steep learning curve. This wasn’t just going to be a collection of 9 paintings, the content that I had in mind needed so much more. So I hunkered down and prepared for the long haul. This was definitely going to be a two to three year ride but I’d have company so it was all good. “Road trip!”

The Idea 

To create a multi-disciplinary roaming arts exhibition that responds directly to the lie that All Lives Matter. One look at any news programme proves that some lives seem to matter less than others in our world today. This exhibition is about holding up a mirror to our society, forcing us to look in that mirror, reminding us of our human connection, and inspiring us to find ways to increase our acts of compassion and love as we walk through the world every day.

The Plan

Showcase the stories of individuals whose lives don’t seem to matter. These individuals will belong to one of the following groups of people that systematically suffer injustice or second class treatment due to stereotyping, ignorance and fear. This list is by no means comprehensive.

    1. Black                 … Special focus on UK & The Caribbean
    2. Disabled            … Mentally, Physically and otherwise
    3. LGBTQI             … especially if also in another minority group
    4. Immigrants         … including Refugees. We belong everywhere and no where.
    5. Children             … Choices, Voices, Warped, Abandoned, Families, Care & Education
    6. Women              … Bodies, Sex, Strength, Power & Will we ever truly unite?
    7. Muslims             … Politics, easy Bogeyman, Culture, etc.
    8. Nurturers           … Carers, Nurses, Social Workers, Stay-at-Home-Mums, etc.
    9. The Poor           … of all races, nationalities, religions, sexes, etc.

The Exhibition

The art for each group will tell their stories and will using paintings about injustice and compassion, photographs, music and poetry relevant to each group. Performaces, talks, workshops and other events will also accompany the exhibition at every venue it visits.

I would prefer to have these pieces of art sourced/created by members of each group i.e. I’ll be looking for say a disabled photographer, a Muslim poet, a lesbian musician, a child singer, and so on.


The Hope

#SomeLivesMatter quietly proposes the question “Am I my brother’s/sister’s keeper?” and slams home the answer “YES! YES I AM and it’s time to start acting like it!”