Morning Rush | Art Therapy | Dirt Boundaries




MorningrushOn a school trip to the (excellent, and oft neglected) Museum of London a couple of months back I was struck in the foyer by an exhibition which included this work ‘Morning Rush’. Having a while to look through their shop after the tour – a compulsory part of any trip with kids, I can tell you – I noticed (hot tip for interesting gifts) that the museum allows you to browse and order prints from their huge archive of London photography/print.

Not being able to find this particular work, I emailed the museum about the possibility of buying it and was put in touch with one of their external programmes staff. She told me it had been produced by one of the prisoners involved in their art programmes. I won’t mention his name here, but it became clear through the negotiations about buying the piece that he was inside for some pretty terrible crimes. And that he was being moved to a high security, long term gaol with no art facilities what-so-ever. It ended up that we made a cheque out to the Governor of this place, and the purchase may go some way to resourcing the beginnings of an art department.

I don’t want this to sound like some do-gooder story. And you may hate the piece anyway. But it is background to some difficult questions I was left with to do with beauty. Can hands that have done such violence create rich beauty? If we can agree they can in a physical, material sense, then we have to allow them to have ‘beautiful minds’ tucked away somewhere. Minds that were troubled into evil acts. Minds that can be renewed. Minds like ours.

So this piece now stands at the bottom of our stairs by the front door. And reminds me each time I step out of the house to try not to stand in judgement on this beautiful/ugly city that is just over the doorstep. But to try to encourage the beauty in each thing. Somehow.

It’s not easy.

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6 responses to “Morning Rush | Art Therapy | Dirt Boundaries”

  1. I once did a placement in the chaplaincy of Britain’s highest-security prison and these sorts of questions exercised the minds and hearts of the chaplians every single day. Hannah Arendt wrote of the banality of evil (Nazi atrocities as an absence of sound thinking and judgement). Which is a helpful concept keeping the door open for the renewal of minds and hearts which your picture suggests to you. However in the chaplaincy we were also very aware of the clarity of evil in the minds of some of the inmates who had done what to us were terrible things but to them, with a very different but very clear (and deeply thought-through) worldview, made perfect sense. That sort of evil, minds and hearts set on its awful course, seems harder to redeem.

  2. Dana Ames

    Thank you, Kester and John. I am sometimes troubled by similar thoughts, particularly when I hear music by Tchaikovsky, who, I found out a few years ago, was a pedophile.

  3. damnflandrz

    The picture has its problems. There is an annoying disparity with line wieghting and, to a lesser extent, tinting. It is this that makes it ask for a second look, I suppose. Unharmonious it is, but with a seeming attempt to be an harmonious (beautiful?) representation of bits of London. Typical, maybe, of Outsider Art. Outisder Art by an Insider.
    Nice choice K.

  4. Plus it’s a crap photo ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I’ll get you round the gallery some time.

  5. I did a series with some students last year, asking them if the personal life of an artist/musician influenced the way that they thought about the piece. In my mind, music is melodic because of math, math which God created. The character of the artist has no control over the math of God, nor over the chemical reaction stimulated in my mind by tiny hairs shaking in my ears, thus allowing me to worship the creator of math, and music, and tiny hairs.
    There were some students however, and leaders, who couldn’t. They stated that the character of the artist/musician could cause them to enjoy art/music more, or less, even stating that they would no longer find a painting beautiful that was created by a pedophile.

  6. damnflandrz

    LOL. How about a Bible translation done by a kiddy-fiddler?
    Did you mention that the cochlea spirals into infinity… proof that such a thing can exist in realtime. The infinate in the inner ear… God in sound… is that why God created the universe thru spoken sound?
    Also, what isnt created by a peedo, homo or liberal these days? Theres no where decent people like me can appreciate real bee-ooty no more, except in the fine craftsmanship on my shotgun ๐Ÿ˜‰