The Value of Art in Our Troubled World

People have been making art for centuries. We are the only species that creates something purely for aesthetic value. As beautiful as the bower bird’s boudoir may be – its function is purely sexual. And whilst throughout the centuries art has been and continues to be used as currency, trade goods, allegory, decoration, status symbol, advertisement, memento and even sexual suggestion, its primary function remains purely aesthetic.

Whilst I am in no way undervaluing the importance of aesthetics in our lives (we all love a beautiful piece of furniture, fashion, fine wine, music etc), but in today’s fractured, full-of-despair yet -full-of-hope society, I feel that art has a much deeper role to play in promoting awareness of some very important issues; from migration to climate change and conservation. These are three themes that recur continuously in my works, because, from my point of view, through my paintings I can not only educate others, but myself.

What other medium can travel through the vacuum of social media, language, culture, age and values better than a visual statement? Art can break political barriers, language barriers; art can reach children where words may not. We need to see, to feel something in order to believe it.

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Available on Amazon, well worth the read!

We can’t all stand and watch the glacier cracking just a few feet from us.

Justin Fenech, a Maltese author, uses literature to explore and engage with the world; and no clearer is this than in his novel The Last Adolescence, in which the protagonist ditches his hedonistic, selfish lifestyle to discover an untouched world where he contemplates his own future and the future of the planet as a whole.

We don’t even have to wait until we’re all grown up; the reality of a changing world is already upon us. Just ask Bria Neff; she’s only nine years old but already a passionate conservationist and stunning young artist. Her carefully constructed paintings are honest and full of love and hope, and have been helping to raise money for conservation, and she’s already raised over $1,600 . Please show your support and admiration on her Facebook page.

 

Morning Song by Bria
Morning Song by Bria

 

It’s not just painting that can work as a powerful visual medium for transporting ideas across the world, I’ve seen countless talented and inspiring individuals using literature, music, even dance and performance arts, as a way of reaching out, grabbing us by our brains and telling us: this is happening.

Simon Kerr uses the power of music to provide listeners with a whole new understanding of climate change, at a concious, engaging level. His music speaks of freedom and empowerment, and is an innovative way to express a topic which can, at times, be to fact-ridden and statistics heavy for us to want to engage with. Find out more: https://artistsandclimatechange.com/2016/07/18/music-and-hope-in-a-warming-world/

Art is not about placing blame, or guilt, but about opening our eyes wide, letting the subject wash over us, and giving us no other choice but to want to know more.

But for me, the most fundamental aspect of art is bringing far-flung societies, peoples and minds together. To inspire positivity. Humanity is its own worst enemy, but we also have the power to do truly wonderful things.

 

All paintings featured in this blog post are for sale unless otherwise specified. Enquiries may come to cjwaterfield@gmail.com

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What Black Robins Can Teach Us About Conservation

“Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too? “
– Douglas Adams

A 15cm high songbird that struggles to fly more than a few yards might not seem like conservation’s great success story, and in a way, it’s not, but the story of the black robin of New Zealand can teach us a lot about how and why small changes can make such a big difference.

In 1980 Old Blue was the only breeding female of a group of just five, the only five representatives of her species, which had been in rapid decline since the introduction of weasels and other foreign predators to their island home. With the dedication of a small team of conservationists, and the help of some unwitting tomtits, Old Blue became the sole progenitor for her entire species, and helped bring them back from the brink of extinction.

Though today, there are still only enough black robins to fill a few handfuls (around 200), this small success story speaks volumes for the small societal and political changes that we need to make, in order to make much bigger changes.

If one bird can inadvertently save her own species, the small changes that we can do as the human species, can help save the planet in big ways. It all starts with awareness. What might seem as something inconsequential can have a profound effect on an ecosystem. It’s not just about the big, eye-catching species that we see splashed all over the Vatican or the media; it’s about habitats, it’s about mentalities, and it’s about desire to change.

Read. Watch. Learn. Get to know about these little stories; get involved.

You too can join the Conservation Conversation. Click here to find out more.

Below are some more inspiring stories about conservation:

http://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/change-the-way-you-think

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/06/cecil-african-lion-anniversary-death-trophy-hunting-zimbabwe/

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/10/sea-otters-global-warming-trophic-cascades-food-chain-kelp

 

All paintings featured in this blog post are for sale unless otherwise specified. Enquiries may come to cjwaterfield@gmail.com

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The Expanding Universe of Art

How is one supposed to feel, knowing that we, on our pinprick of our blue planet, in our speck of dust under the cosmic carpet of our milky way, are hurtling through space and towards infinity, with absolutely no consolation except the knowledge that it’s actually happening.

I guess in a way, the art world is like an expanding universe. As soon as you get sucked in to it, it seems like there’s a never-ending, spinning web of ideas, styles, names, name-dropping, brush-bashing and social media platforms that making your impact in it seems infinitely impossible. The more time goes on, the more new -isms crawl out of the woodwork, and all of a sudden your left wondering where your place in the art universe is. The further away the galaxy from us, the faster it appears to be moving. Just as distant ideas and desires appear to be slipping away before we can ever hope to grasp them. As distance grows, speed increases.

Universe Milky Way Watercolour Painting

But I think that, in the same way that there’s no true centre of the universe, only your perspective within it, there’s no universal law for art. There is nothing to stop us being the artist we want to be, or choosing any one of the multitude of paths we conceived for ourselves. The more we know about art and our universe, the more power we have within it, however slight. We have to admit though, that certain things are well beyond our control. By the non-randomness of particles slamming together at just the right distance from the sun, a lot of it is really down to luck.

And just as the universe, by some incomprehensible miracle, started from a single, infinitely small point (a singularity), art started in the same way. Long, long before we first painted in the caves, or scratched angular marks into a mammoth bone or reindeer antler, long before we even contemplated our sense of being, the spark was there. The one, fleeting, chance coming together of nothing, created everything.

Expanding Universe Watercolour Painting
Expanding Universe, Watercolours – Even the world’s largest land animal is tiny and insignificant against the cosmic background!

It was nothing but non-random luck, that Stephen Hawking happened to be the surprising inspiration behind this blog post, and this painting of elephants against the milky way, though I am sure I didn’t do the expanding universe justice.

All paintings featured in this blog post are for sale unless otherwise specified. Enquiries may come to cjwaterfield@gmail.com

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