No right to the arts??

No right to art?

In the UK successive Conservative governments have attacked the arts as part of mainstream education. This year Boris and his band of bufoons are reneging on their promise to inject £25K of funding for art subjects into schools due to the impact of covid.

Yeah right.

It is, as almost everything they say and do, an outright lie. Their continued attack on creativity is nothing to do with available funding and all to do with function amd control.

I’ve seen this from two perspectives now, as a social scientist and as an artist. The political right hate both subject areas. The former because it questions social structures, systems and relations. It specifically addresses the fair distribution of resources, domestically and globally, and, our exploitation of this planet and our environment.

They abhor the latter because the creative arts also raise questions about our lives, our consciousness. They are challenging because they foster our imaginations and make us dream of something better. Art is wonder and right wing politicians and market fundamentalists hate the very idea of wonder.

They belittle social sciences as useless and the arts as an indulgence.

Why? They enjoy entertainment don’t they? They go to museums, recitals, they watch foreign movies dubbed and subtitled. Of course, but they want those things to be in safe hands, the preserve of rich kids in public schools saying the right things and sending the right messages.

Education for the rest must be functional, disciplined, valuable to them. Drive out creativity, imagination, wonder and the ability to question and they get what THEY dream of – an obedient workforce of unthinking consumers. Bowles and Gintis were always correct, the hidden curriculum is the educational agenda for the masses. It’s not what they teach us, it’s how they teach us to behave.

But to paraphrase Gollum, we mustn’t let them have it. We must fight for the right to question them and their plans, to give our children the opportunity to embrace the wonder, the opportunity to dream and to create.

The Right have no right to turn our children into cogs in their godawful system of contain and control. We must protect the arts and the social sciences now before it’s all too late.

Stopped and searched

I was once stopped and searched by the police… Once. But before I get into the social, cultural and political significance of that statement, let me first describe the incident – it still arouses a strong emotional response many years later.

It was late morning and I was strolling through the new shopping mall on my way into work. It was my day off and I’d been painting and decorating, so my clothes were scruffy and paint spattered. For once I was in no hurry, I was only going in to pick up some paperwork.

As I wandered through the crowds of people I noticed a beautiful black labrador, unthinkingly, i held my hand down to it. It gave me a quick sniff as we passed, and that was that.

Except… It wasn’t.

Almost immediately, the dog was at my pocket and a man in black army fatigues was wheeling me around amd slamming me against the wall. Before I could even process things he was screaming into my face that he knew I had drugs on me, or, that I’d had some previously.

My initial shock gave way to embarrassment and then to anger. With people watching, I told him to get his hands off me and to get out of my face. As his spittle flecked my cheek, I felt my fists bunching,I was indignant and entering fight mode. That shocked me almost as much as the stop.

Fortunately, two uniformed officers arrived, quite forcefully told their colleague to move away, and explained how the search would proceed. As the male officer was taking my name, the dog handler reappeared and the female uniformed officer shoved him away again.

Their faces fell when I told them that I was a criminology lecturer teaching ‘ethnicity and policing’ at the local university. This accelerated the process and they seemed sadly resigned when i told them that i would be going to the station directly to make a formal complaint. As I left I heard the uniforms berating the over zealous handler.

i made my complaint, went into work and then went home. About an hour later a senior officer called me to ask whether I wanted to progress the complaint or whether I’d be happy for the dog handler to receive training. I told him that would be fine, but that they ought to really explore the efficacy of sniffer dogs as well.

And that was that.

But should it have been?

There was a class element to the incident for sure, because if I’d been dressed for work my treatment would have been utterly different. The handler saw my clothes and assumed I was working class (which I am by background and culture) and considered me to be guilty by association.

But the event really gave me an insight into police mistreatment, especially as I’d been teaching and researching in that area for several years. What must it be like to be young and black, where stops are a regular occurrence? The harassment, indignity, the shame, despite absolute innocence.

And what it makes me think is that we don’t really know what we want from the police. A law enforcement agency? A sub-military organisation? An institution that supports other public services, like social work, one that serves as well as protects?

Reading about the police response to the murder of Sarah Everard, to put more plain clothes police officers onto the streets to reassure women. Given that a police officer was guilty of the terrible crime, this looks both insensitive and incompetent.

I was not from a vulnerable group when I was stopped, but I felt threatened, embarrassed, humiliated and angry. For young women, minority ethnic groups, and for poor people in general we need to rethink how the police operate on the streets.

BUT we have a bigger issue at hand, which is to work out, once and for all, what policing means and how it fits into communities and the wider society.

For me police reform is vital and inevitable.

Twisting our priorities

Once upon a time I would have written this article from a position of smug superiority, taking the tone of a sage observer looking at social horrors as an astute outsider. That, thankfully, is something I’ve moved beyond. I realise now that it was born of my monumental sense of inferiority. As far as I see it, most attempts to raise ourselves above others comes from that dark and shady space.

So, although this piece is designed to highlight social oddities, -perhaps even horrors – my positioning is mainly informed by a profound sadness and a desire to challenge accepted conventions.

Okay, so having gotten all of the qualifications out of the way, what is the purpose of this piece? Twisted priorities, that’s the theme. The way in which our world lionises strange values as taken for granted norms to live by.

I’m going to employ three examples to highlight my case. The first was an advert I’ve seen recently starring the evergreen Kevin Bacon. He is seen sitting on a bench enjoying the rapidity of his broadband on his new mobile phone, while another (anonymous) guy bemoans the fact that all he has is a measly sandwich.

Fairly standard stuff? Yes, I thought so too. The premise is the natural envy induced by someone else having a material thing that that we don’t have. That’s one of dimensions of our modern consumer society. What shocked me was the realisation that a lump of metal and plastic should be more important than food! I hate that.

In a world governed by twisted priorities this seems natural, but when you stop to think about it it’s absolutely crazy. One of the staples of our existence – sustenance – is less important than an inedible consumer product. Now, I’ll accept that a sandwich isn’t as useful as a phone in certain circumstances, but, on principle I stand by my the guts of my assessment.

Staying with the same kind of observation, I recently saw a delivery vehicle from one of the major UK supermarkets dropping off supplies to a neighbour. On the side of the cab it read: No cash carried in this vehicle. Fair enough, but no anxious mention that it regularly carries food and other essentials.

Think about that. The fear is that criminals will target the van because it might carry money – useless paper and metal – but will ignore the fact that it delivers the very things that keep us alive. You would think that in a period where covid has destroyed small businesses and hurt poor kids by impacting on things like free school meals, that people might hold up vans carrying food and drink, but apparently not…

My final example comes from the world of video games. I wouldn’t class myself as a keen gamer, but I do partake every now and again. A long while ago I was playing a racing game with my youngest son. He was only about six at the time and he was watching as I careened around corners, desperate to win key races to unlock more elements of the story.

The basis of that story was a young, female ambulance driver saving the life of a race team owner, and he, impressed by her driving prowess, recruiting her to drive for him. I was happily progressing the game when my son said: ‘Dad, isn’t being an ambulance driver more important than being a race driver?’
That stunned me into an uneasy silence.

Why?

Well, first because he was completely correct. Being a racing driver is nowhere near as important as driving an ambulance. Who would say otherwise? Entertaining people pales into insignificance compared to saving lives. No debates, that’s the bottom line. Second, because my tiny boy should see it so clearly when I was effectively buying into the concept without any serious reflection.

For myself I think it is imperative to pull these social norms into the light, to see things as they really are, rather than the way our twisted society wants us to see them. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about it, advertisers and other influencers – both direct and indirect- spend so much time, energy and money obscuring the truth from us. But we can fight back by seeing through their lies, and, just maybe, actively challenging them. That’s one way out of the matrix.

The attraction of chaos

i love apocalyptic fiction. It doesn’t matter what the theme is, although I do have a particular preference for zombie stories. The Dawn of the Dead, The Walking Dead, there’s a whole host of films, series and books that have captured my attention and secured my faithful consumption.

Consumption. That was what drew me to this type of work to begin with. It fascinated me to think that they were often set in shopping malls amd that the zombies were parodying the mindlessness of consumerism. Clever!

But it isn’t just the subtext, or even the theme, much of this work is good in and of itself. Brilliant character construction, great storylines and well written dialogue. If you’ve been a regular watcher of The Walking Dead you will have seen the same patterns recurring over and over again, and yet it remains compelling.

The Modern Zombie

But what is it that I find so enthralling?

This question puzzled me for a while, and then it struck me. It’s the collapse of the every day, the blossoming of chaos, the sharpening of meaning. Faced with constant destruction, what is the reason, the purpose of living, and, perhaps more importantly, is the living worth the effort? Given such risk, such looming threats, is life worth fighting for? That’s one dimension to the fascination, at least for me.

The other aspect to this is the normality of abnormality. When you feel so detached from the world around you, so different and odd, perhaps there is always a desire for something completely new, something that breaks the norm, that shatters everything you find so difficult to navigate.

it’s not that I crave the destruction of society, it’s just a form of escapism, a way to suspend the world and explore alternative realities. There’s power as well as hope in that.

Why I Write

George Orwell

A long while ago I read an essay by George Orwell entitled Why I Write. In all honesty I recall little of the content now, but what I still carry is the impression it made on me. It was inspirational, both in its intent and message, and I desperately need inspiration.

As an academic writer I knew the ‘why’ at the start. I wanted to challenge, inform and inspire. I wanted to change the world, to show people that things could be better, that we could create a system built on human dignity and rights, that a textured equality was a possibility… but the why lost shape, it lost traction.

I was writing every day, which I feel is good discipline in any endeavour, but increasingly it was report writing, reviews, mission statements, comments on essays and pleas for funding. Writing became a chore, a source of discontent and frustration.

Even the creative aspects of writing, the research papers and books, did not satisfy. They were produced to show productivity, to please managers and conform with audits and research assessment exercises. These were then used to rank and order people and places, but they never escaped the politics of British academia, nor the subjective nature of such evaluations.

It was a soulless, desiccating experience and I steadily lost the will and the why.

At the time I left I was working on a book about equality, equal opportunities and diversity. It was to be my magnum opus, the book I ought to have written on completing my PhD, but I was tired then and lacking in confidence. And as my confidence grew so did the demands I’ve just outlined. They killed the desire and smothered the why.

But now, with distance, I understand why I want to write again. It’s because writing is powerful, it draws on our very essence, it allows us the ability to reach deep inside and share the light and darkness of our souls with other people. It is the most beautiful, evocative and enduring form of communication.

And so, I will write my book. Pulling from my views, my experience and my beliefs, I will write it because I want to challenge, inform and change things. You see, I still believe, I’d simply forgotten, my words suppressed by a system that is built to discourage and suppress.

We must all fight against the inhuman and inhumane systems that drain our desire and kill our belief. We must all ask the most basic and hauntingly important question – why?

A reflection on teaching

As someone who has taught in higher education and as a cricket coach, I can talk about the role and responsibility of teaching from both perspectives, but here I want to reflect on what I’ve experienced as a learner.

The picture I placed at the head of this post is a selection of work from my school years. At that stage I wanted to go to art college and become an artist. It wasn’t to be, and teaching was to a very large extent responsible. I had a bad experience with a teacher who was indifferent towards me and, at times, was deeply discouraging. And yet, my experience with art education demonstrates the complexity of teaching itself.

A teacher helped to destroy that dream, but another teacher lit the original flame. He saw something in me, he believed I had ability, a flare. One afternoon in his class he completely turned my world upside down. Until he took my picture and showed it to my classmates I’d simply been a sportsman, too stupid and uncultured for any other subjrct. That teacher had a profound impact on me and the fire he started still burns to this day.

And those two instances demonstrate the importance of relationships – that teaching is about more than conveying information, it is about belief, it is forged in the furnace of inspiration.

When I was a child I regarded teachers as the enemy. They weren’t people to inform and inspire they were jailers. They were unbridled, sometimes arbitrary, holders of authority. It was defined by repression and boredom. And there were many teachers that gloried in their power. Teachers who would humiliate and even hit you, or launch a board rubber, a heavy, wooden board rubber across a room as a potentially lethal missile.

But as an adult I now realise that my ability to recognise this was never very refined. We had a history teacher called Miss W who terrorised us. She was a spinster in late middle age who held the class completely in thrall. Even the scariest kids in my year, and we had some very troubled individuals, didn’t mess with Miss W. My relationship with her was especially difficult because she’d loved my sister and she constantly made me feel inadequate, as if i was betraying some family heritage. I got it into my head that she hated me and I did all I could to fight back.

Only years later did I begin to see how limited my comprehension had been. I was working on my PHd, and I’d been asked by the local library to write a piece about its importance to me, how i’d used it as a resource. So I did. Then one morning while I was taking my mum shopping, Miss W approached us. She’d read my piece about the library. She told me that she’d always known that I had it in me, that she’d tried different ways to reach me, and that she was proud of me. It reduced me and my mum to tears.

Not disappointment, certainly not hatred, but a loving frustration. That came as a huge shock, and I felt ashamed of my resistance, fear and anger. My ability to comprehend teachers and teaching had been so very blunt.

I can see now that several teachers tried to help me, that they’d wanted to inspire me, but I was unreachable.

At university I began to see it. Two lecturers, Paul and Mark, in particular took it upon themselves to encourage me. They – and several others – taught and inspired me, and, they gave me models to follow. I am eternally grateful for all of them, for what they taught me and what they taught me to be.

How important is teaching? It simply cannot be quantified. This is a thank you to all those dedicated educators who shrug off indifferent kids, angry parents, undermining governments and ungrateful societies to help other people to see the best in themselves and to pull out their potential and hone self belief.

THANK YOU…

The Canvas

i believe that art is magic. The procress of creation, taking a blank surface and turning it into an image is, in my view, magical. But how does that happen?

Some artists I’ve read about or have spoken to find the emptiness intimidating. In some cases they simply cannot make the first mark, overcome by doubt and the ever present fear of failure, they struggle desperately to begin. They may even lay down a brushstroke and abandon the whole project. Thankfully, this isn’t my experience, though I do empathise with it.

I actually love the blank space, it radiates with possibilities. At times you know exactly how things will develop, you see the end game, especially with commissions. The template is set. Although you can surprise yourself as well. The painting above, Firework Family, was one of those. From the moment my brush touched the surface it was always going to be different, more abstract, more vital than I expected. On a dark blue background the group portrait was built up using a series of lines, brightly coloured lines. It was driven by the character of the subjects, they just emanated joy, and that made me think of fireworks exploding against a night sky. A family cast in fireworks, and a surprise to me as much as anyone!

But then there is the blank canvas where you already know the outcome. The painting at the head of this post, Chief of Colours, was always going to be as it is, except that the background darkened following some constructive criticism from an artist friend. However, it was a stop-start affair. The initial outline was laid down readily enough, but the guts of the piece took time. Visiting and revisiting it until in one quickfire session it was suddenly finished. It is without doubt one of my favourite paintings of all.

Then there are those canvases where you see the final image, you get it down exactly as you intended, only for external forces to intervene. In this case – Blue Wave – I was ecstatic with the outcome. It was designed to embody the blue wave I hoped would sweep away the filth of Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office. A single adult elephant moving from left to right into the picture, leaving acres of space, oceans of potential for change. A dramatic sky dominated by black, but with streaks of white lancing through shades of blue. I was excited by the end product…. But it was a conmission, and so the client wanted a baby elephant painted in that changed the dynamic totally. I wouldn’t say it spoiled it, many loved the baby’s inclusion, but for me it diluted the power of the image.

I want to finish this post with Vibrant. Albeit a drawing rather than a painting, this was a piece that I just couldn’t finish. My intention was to make this far less colourful, to focus the eye on his face not allowing the necklaces to overwhelm him. And yet… I just couldn’t help myself. Each short session saw more and more colour until I finally reached the point where I just had to let it go. As Leonardo said most pieces are abandoned rather than finished. That is so very true…

Having given a little insight into the procrss I still believe art to be a form of magic. Whatever our tastes, whatever our preferences, there is always something that will appeal to us as fans or art lovers. And it all starts from a blank canvas or page. What a beautiful thing it is.

Connectedness

I’ve been thinking a lot about connectedness recently. The wrongheadedness of much right wing thinking is always the driver of these thoughts. It’s easy, seductive – forget society, focus only on yourself and your family.

One of the logical extensions of this perspective leads to questions like: Why pay taxes? Surely we should keep what we earn? Wasn’t it Nozick that said that income tax amounted to theft? Why should wealthy people subsidise those less fortunate? Their tired old answer is to forget taxation and allow the trickle down effect to operate.

As we’ve seen since the late 1970s though, the trickle down is more like a torrent up. Inequality keeps on growing and the share secured by the have nots declines exponentially. And of course, left to their own devices, free of state intervention, the 1% will take as much as they can get away with. They would happily take everything.

After all, the logic of our system is to take, take take. Nothing is ever too much. And yet, the underlyimg reality is that such a system rarely makes the winners happy. Homes, cars, disastrous plastic surgery, none of it works.

But that is not the purpose of this piece. What I want to focus on is that earlier question: why pay taxes?

Because we are all connected. The children of the wealthy do not live in a vacuum. They have to rely on other people whether they like it or not. Leaving others in abject poverty actually makes THEM vulnerable.

When they’ve stolen all the wealth, and they’re hiding in their bulletproof cars and cowering inside their gated communities, who do they think will be doing their household work? Who will be driving those cars, flying their planes? Who will be defendimg their properties? People from the 99%

In truth, faced with howling mobs of the dispossessed, will those ‘ordinary’ people lay down their lives for the geeedy and indifferent. I have my doubts.

Which begs another question – wouldn’t the offspring of the wealthy be better off in a world where the people around them are well educated, well fed, inadequately housed? I believe so.

In fact, wouldn’t those rich kids be safer and more secure in a world where they weren’t so disconnected. Isn’t that why we are seeing a criminal family eviscersting the United States at the moment? The Trumps grew up in a rarefied environment, headed by a sociopath, and Fred Trump created another in his image.

The whole Trump family are pathological, and one of the major problems is their lack of connectedness which allows that to continue and fester. I believe that we need to tax the 1% massively, and find ways of demonstrating to them that, while they may want to be aloof and elite, that it isnt really in their own best interests.

Their disconnect from the rest of is a mirage, and, it’s a dangerous one – for us all.

Virtual Resister Art Exhibition: Volume Two!

Welcome! In this exhibition of great resister art we have a diverse range of people, life experiences and media to share with you. Although I think art sometimes needs a backstory or a narrative, I also believe that it should speak for itself, that the perspective of the viewer is as real and valid as that of the artist. If a picture, painting or pot speaks to us, then that is often a very personal thing. So, without further ado, please take your time, enjoy the pieces you see here, and if you would be so kind, please help us to grow this into something bigger and sustainable (shares and likes gratefully received). An artist recently told me that she’d been criticised for displaying her work on social media at a time when there are more important things happening in the world. My response to that is that once the forces of darkness kill creativity and art they will finally have done their worst.

Resist!

We begin with some beautifully created photographic images by John Hagan. John is currently in Thailand, but is mostly based in Australia.

Next we have two beautiful portraits in pastel by Lada Kucker who lives and works in the Czech Republic

From the physical to the digital, Nerissa Wilkinson, who also embroiders amazingly beautiful portraits and other subjects, presents here a digital portrait entitled ‘The Dawn Maiden’

The artist writes: ‘

I was inspired, to depict a figure from Māori lore (my culture) and felt compelled to portray “Hinetītama”. She is the goddess of dawn & dusk and was the daughter of the demi god (Tane) and the very first woman (Hineahuone). My daughter was kind enough to model for me.’

Of course, art is frequently an act of resistance, but it can also be explicitly so. Here we have a lovely lyrical contribution consisting of four poems by Kristin Really, starting with one entitled ‘Unblendable’

Unblendable

Your life
With schedules, directions, reflections
Blood pressure and coffee go
Hand in hand
You are always thinking, plotting,
Looking to see who may be on which list today
Your life
Was easy to slide into
And you cannot fathom why the rest of us didn't
Your breath is slow, deep, calm
Breathing in the scent of your surroundings
Or sometimes fear
Of you
And that makes you smile
Your life is power and concern for others-
Faked, of course, but that's expected
But your laugh, when truly victorious
Is deep, loud, carefree
And careless
Your life
You didn't ask for it, work for it
But it is yours to use
And you do, to impact
My life
With alarms and scrambling
But not eggs
Blood pressure and pills go
Hand in hand
I am always waiting, watching
Looking for signs of danger
My life
I accidentally tripped into
This slow sinking into the fathoms of hell
My breath is slow, silent, or held
Like an animal hunted
I breathe your stench
But my own scent of fear is overpowering you
And the irony almost makes me smile
The only power that I possess
that is greater than yours
Is fear
My life is survival and blending
With business attire and firm handshakes
Faked, of course, but necessary
But my laugh, when appropriate
Might resemble what it once was
Before it was taken from me
Now trained, restrained, careful
Too precious for careless sharing
From mingling your life with mine
My life
I didn't ask for it, look for it
But it is mine
I didn't even see it coming
I must have blinked
Before the impact
But you, you're the type       
 who would have watched
Fascinated at the force
And now your life and mine are tethered
I think I still hear the crash of that merge
Or is that the memory of  your laughter?

Pass the Bottle
(Social Issue: Addiction)  

You worship at the alter
Of some unholy creed
Your gospel is the scripture
Of want instead of need
You’re looking for salvation
At the bottom of a glass
You know it isn’t perfect
But it’s good enough to pass

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Crush the powder
Choke the pills down
The pain of life
Might really drown you

So worship in the darkness
Surround yourself with lies
Say a prayer to emptiness
And never say goodbyes
The gospel truth won’t own you
If it melts down with the ice
Your savior is another shot
Your God, another vice.

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Pass the plate
For all that’s right
Reality’s not worth the fight
Crush the powder
Down the pills
You might survive
Afraid you will


So Preach unto the choir
Of Never Never Land
The devil will spin stories
Only you can understand
Then pray for your salvation
At the bottom of a glass
Drink away your memories
Amen that they don’t last

Pass the bottle
It’s easier that way

Numb your whole life
Erase another day

Pass the bottle
Cure what ills you
Numb the pain
Before it kills you
Crush the powder
Choke the pills down
The pain of life
Still somehow found you
Pass the bottle...

Two more poems to come from Kristin, but first we have a musical submission. Two songs by singer/songwriter M. Brinston Berry!

Singer/Songwriter M. Brinston Berry has been creating original music for nearly a decade. With three EPs to his name, Berry has amassed a diverse catalog of neo-folk songs influenced by equal parts Iron & Wine and Bob Dylan.


These two songs were written from the heart about exposing and resisting the world we live in…

From music to a mixture of media submitted by artist and sculptor Dianne Davis…

‘Figure’
‘Chopping Cotton’
‘Little Dog, Big Cake’
‘Cat with Two Miles’

Next, Tara Tisch, a friend and ardent resister, presents some beautiful prints and paintings…

And now for two more poems by Kristin Really…

This is a song about surviving sexual assault. 
Listen
When the dreams come
Even during the day
Then it’s time to pack
Those memories away

Keep your back straight
Like you can’t fall
If it hurts, just go numb
Feel nothing at all

But the pain , I know, is crippling
It’ll eat you up alive
Don’t you allow it
Listen to me now
I know you’ll survive

Don’t show emotion
Don’t even let them in
Never cry
Because that’s how they win

When the dreams come
In the dead of night
Just remind yourself
You put up one hell of a fight

They’ll point fingers
Don’t rub your wounds with salt
They’ll try to place blame
But listen to me now
This was not your fault

And the pain , I know, is crippling
It’ll eat you up alive
Don’t you allow it
Listen to me now
I know you’ll survive

I stand with you
I grieve with you
But most of all, know
I believe you

And the pain, I know, is crippling
But you’ve already arrived
The tides of change are rippling
You’ve already survived

Listen to me now
Listen to me now
Listen
You don’t have to despair
That your soul won’t repair
Cause you
You’re already there.
Preaching to the Choir 
Death in daylight screamed to us
A message to the wise
Close your heart to evil now
And open up your eyes

On the narrow walk of fate
Balancing life’s high wire
You’re passing down divisive hate
Preaching to your choir 

Deja Vu  of yesterday
Lessons learned in vain
History repeats itself
Bleeding from the pain

Your words come back to haunt you
Hiding behind guns for hire
Amplify insanity 
To feed your rabid choir 

The masses rise up now united
Left with little choice
A force of solidarity 
The world now has one voice 

You’re stumbling to the gates of hell
A blackened soul on fire
You’re not fooling anyone
Just preaching to your choir 


Violence, lies, and bigotry
Are all that you inspire
False prophet for the worst of us
Preaching to your choir 



Another digital contribution now, by Daniel J. Frey, one of the contributors to the first exhibition, this is a template for a planned oil painting. It is entitled simply 'Hope'

Daniel J. Frey is a writer/producer based in Hollywood

Some beautiful photos comprise the penultimate submission, presented by a Twitter friend known as Saje @sjeh07. These were taken in Peru and are incredibly atmospheric and evocative

To conclude the exhibition we have some magnificent jewellery created by my very good friend Bren known on Twitter as @BrenBalazs. She also has an online shop @BrensJewels…

And that concludes the second Virtual Resister Art Exhibition! Thank you so much for taking the time to enjoy these wonderful and diverse pieces of art. I hope that you come back over and over to savour this work, and, that you will share and help us create a resister art movement that will transcend these difficult times. Art is a delicate thing. without love and support it will not flourish, and we must never let the arid minds of ‘serious’ people extinguish it.

Thank you

We Matter

We matter. A simple sentence with so many connotations. At one level, at least for me, it is about self worth. A declaration of existential affirmation, howling into the face of childhood pain, compounded by cultural and systemic indifference.

But it’s also about equality. The truth that each of us matters, that every individual counts as one. A political statement. Collective individualism or individual collectivism. Too often the left forget the individual, in my opinion, while the right always neglect the collective, unless it’s about constructs such as nationalism, ways to divide us for easy manipulation.

But there’s another level to this statement: we matter; and that is where these aspects intersect. Now, bear with me because I am going to suggest that we often think we matter where we shouldn’t, and we don’t think we matter where we should.

Let’s start with the first claim – that we think we matter where we shouldn’t. I guess I mean this to cover two connected areas. The first is about a day-to-day arrogance that we all recognise, that sense of self-importance that translates into aggressive self-assertion. You know it as well as i do. That person who weaves in and out of lanes to get one car ahead, or pushes in while everyone else queues.

Arrogance. Aggression. Self-importance. Too often our culture tells us that we should push ahead, sod the rest, that being selfish is a sign of assertiveness. It isn’t. This is an example of mattering where we don’t, elevating one above others, celebrated in all the billionaire adoring movies and literature. It’s not pretty.

Another element to this is the desperate need for attention that we seem to need. Social media plays into this. Lately, I’ve seen baleful cries for attention, threats to leave social media if immediate recognition isn’t forthcoming. Why does no-one take notice when I write such amazing content???

I feel for those people. It is upsetting to be ignored, but we have to acknowledge two important things. On the one hand, we cannot control other people, no matter how much we try. If they don’t want to give us attention they don’t have to. My advice though, for what it’s worth, is to keep shouting into the void. The message is still valid even if no-one hears.

Recently, I saw a really good artist say: I want to be famous! Surely, it is more important to be an artist, to do what you love, to do it with your entire heart and soul, rather than to do it to ‘get famous’? The fame – fickle, transient- should follow the art, the art should not be a vehicle to garner fame. Mattering where we don’t

So, what about this idea that we matter where we think we don’t? To me this is about that hole in our soul that we tolerate, often feed, that makes us feel inadequate, unimportant, irrelevant. It has a political dimension, because it links in to that belief that we can’t make a difference, that our votes and voices don’t matter because they are insignificant, that we are insignificant.

It is fuelled by a system that feeds on our despair and hopelessness.

And yet, we DO matter, we have to matter to and for ourselves. We need to recognise our own self worth, a worth that exists over and above what we achieve, and certainly above whether we get a million likes or retweets. There is a job of work to done by most of us, and I certainly include myself in this, and that is to see our intrinsic worth. Our inherent value as human beings, as living, breathing, conscious entities.

We matter because we ARE. Everything else flows from that.