My work has never been overtly political. I often touch on issues almost accidentally as I go about processing my world, and those issues fall more easily into social statement rather than political activism.
A few posts ago I wrote about the rhizomic way my work seems to develop. Sit on an idea for a while, then it might connect with another and then up sprouts the work, whether that’s a song or a drawing or whatever.
It’s happened again.
I often sit with a cup of tea in the studio, doing the scroll of doom through twitter. Sometimes I have to stop myself, because I just get really angry/sad/frustrated that I can’t do anything to make a change or even deal with things as I would want to.
The other day I was scrolling through and found an article saying that up to 48% of children in some areas of the town I live in are living in poverty. WHAT?? 48%. I am incensed with rage that this government, in this country that is supposed to be one of the richest in the world, has allowed this to happen. It is time we stopped measuring the country’s richness by how much money the richest have got squirrelled away off-shore, paying no tax on. We should look at how much the poorest have got and take our measurements from that instead. Because this situation is a disgrace and shows us up as merciless, morally bankrupt, selfish idiots.
I then went down a rabbit hole of statistics… looking at the Child Poverty Action Group https://cpag.org.uk/child-poverty/child-poverty-facts-and-figures
And at the 2021 census for my area.
2452 children between the ages of 0-17 years old
31% of all children in the UK live in poverty. That’s 760 children on my doorstep.
49% are in lone parent families. That’s 1,202 children
46% are from black and minority ethnic groups (their terminology) compared to 26% white British. That’s 1,128 compared to 661
75% of those living in poverty are working households.
As I read these figures and work out these percentages I am becoming more and more enraged. 760 is equivalent to a very large three-form entry primary school.
Back in the studio, laid out before me is that increasingly large pile of wrapped twigs. The wrapping I see as an act of care and protection. I have already mentioned here that I see them as families…
I am spurred on to make a huge piece of work. I want to wrap 760 twigs. I have no idea how long it will take, or how much space they will take up, or where I will exhibit them. But it has to be done. I am stating it here, before I even start, just in case I forget the anger, or lose confidence, or get cold feet.