On Friday myself and Sharon Mossbeck hosted the open evening for UNITY – our open -call exhibition at Exchange Place Studios, Sheffield, that looks at the theme of Unity following Britain’s decision to leave the EU. We’re still amazed by the turnout, which was 132 people.
A reflection of our hard work? Well, maybe. But then we always put hard work into our exhibitions, and we’ve never had an opening quite like this. Perhaps UNITY offered more than simply an exhibition. It provided artists with a space to vent, to place their thoughts towards our divided nation onto a piece of work as a means of meditation, or reflection, or a means to comprehend or reinforce their position among the complexities leaving the EU represents. It instigated a process of healing, of re-building bridges and of finding connections between people and communities.
This was not only reflected in the work received but also in the visitors that attended. They too want to bear witness to how creative action can be a strong moral, social and political force. They too want to feel re-united following divisive political events, and understand that art has the capacity to do that.
In short, it’s an exhibition that people wanted and needed. It inspired those that don’t normally consider themselves artists to take action. It re-ignited passion and it provided people with the opportunity to express their thoughts with meaning and relevance directly applicable to current events.
It was certainly a meditative process for me personally. I feel – and I’m sure Sharon does too – that we have created a positive force for good.