When teaching Fine Art students we always made clear how important it was to value their creativity, because the work they make is unique; it is exclusively their expression and would not otherwise exist but for them making it. They birth it into the world.

The work of artists and writers provides us with new insights, interpretations and understandings about the world we live in. Such creative work resonates best when experienced within the time it has been made, so it can be understood in relation to the society out of which it has been produced.

 

Your creative works form part of the culture of your time. Just like an ocean is made up of drops of water, what we call ‘culture’ is made up of the combined creative expressions of all those making work within the arts. Each work is a connected particle related to a much bigger form. This bigger form is our shared arts culture.

The individual voice is precious and deserves the time, space, and place to be heard. If you want to know the truth about a society, a good place to look for it is in the contemporary arts and the work produced by the people living in the here and now. We live in what is described as the post-truth age, where global news outlets peddle their agendas, where the very notion that there is a ‘truth’ is constantly challenged. The ability to contextualise and understand nuance has been reduced by the limited analysis that social media allows. Manipulation of ideas is therefore too easy, leading to a dangerous scenario; a perfect storm enabling the lies and deceit of those holding or seeking power.

A confident society allows freedom of expression within its arts. If there is nothing to hide, why try and hide it by silencing artists and creative people? Their work is where you see the truth about their world. A vibrant culture always develops when the grassroots is nurtured and given the space to express. It is from the ground up that a strong arts culture evolves. It is repressive and limiting if there is enforcement from the top down as this only maintains and protects the established order.

 

The burst of creativity in the 1960’s completely shook society and consequently made irrelevant the existing music establishment of that era. With the help of mass media, this new music fostered immense social and cultural changes across the world. People understood the ‘truth’ that the new music expressed and it resonated with people bringing new understandings and new ways of navigating the world. We can never know when this might happen again, but the only way it will, is for people to continue reinterpreting the world in their creative work.

 

It is never good to leave the story telling, the explaining about the world to media companies, politicians and the establishment because we will often be deceived. The naked truth is within the arts. Every artist and every poet is part of the ‘ocean’, so put ink in your pen and go for it, write that piece you have been thinking about, help change the world.

John