Artists have always been the mirrors of our society. Whether that is reflecting the damage we; humanity do to the environment or to each other. Artist give visual voice to our actions and sometimes our consequences.
In the social media driven world of today, do we still need artists to be those mirrors? Simply yes! If anything, social media is now just another medium for us to access that visual commentary, as is seen with the satirical cartoons often posted online.
In our current exhibition “Shaken Earth” the artists on display have explored the impacts of last year’s earthquake. We put together the show to highlight where we were and where we are. Each artist has expressed in different ways the impacts as they perceive them of that moment. The obvious destruction as shown in the instant capture of photography, in painting, the density of energy of the earths movement, along with the surprising scene of military frigates in local waters that arrived to help with the relief effort; not to mention the effects under the ground, is shown through colour and texture. Each piece highlighting their differing observations.
Many of New Zealand’s most famous artists are making comments with the subject of their work whether it be, Bill Hammond with his anthropomorphic birds exploring the impact of humanity on the natural environment, or Barry Cleavin commenting on our impact of the sea. Liam Barr and his “Buller and his Birds” commenting on our historic destruction of whole species. Nelson artist Nikki Romney explores the imbalance between man or woman and church. Each artist has a passion outside of their artistic practice that they illustrate through their talent.
In Belfast (Ireland) it has become a tourist attraction to view the politically motivated art on public walls of the “Troubles” that has shaped modern Irish life. Just as famous galleries around the world hold collections showing our history and our progress.
More and more today I think it is important that we have artists who are motivated to comment on the world around us. Whether those commentaries are comfortable of not does not matter. The artist role will always be to record our world; whether that be the land, the people or the political environment, they are the mirrors the rest of us need when we are too busy with the business of life to see the bigger or smaller picture.