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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
EditorialsUpFront 08/23

UpFront 08/23

As we approach our 6th Marshwood Arts Awards exhibition, I thought it would be interesting to hear from some of the over 100 artists and makers that have exhibited since we launched this initiative 15 years ago. It is clearly a challenging moment for people in all walks of life, but it does seem that artists and makers face an especially difficult time during an economic downturn. There are few in full time jobs and irregular freelance income produces uncertainty. But I found that overall past exhibitors expressed a sense of perseverance, ingenuity, flexibility and community. It is really impressive how so many people have been able to adapt to change. In his latest book, But What Can I Do?, Alastair Campbell combined the words perseverance and resilience to invent ‘persevilience’. It’s a word that might apply to many of those I spoke to. Print artist, Cameron Short, an exhibitor in our 2015 Awards, commented on the fast changing world where at one end our daily lives are dominated by cost of living pressures and at the other ‘the existential threat from climate change, despotic governments, geopolitical tensions and war in Europe.’ He said that many people are asking if art is still relevant. He reminded me of a comment he made at the end of last year which speaks volumes about the value we should place on artists and makers. He said: ‘Someone once said that art strengthens faith in the nobility of man. In an increasingly broken world, artists have the imaginative power to lift the spirit and restore collective suffering through the creation of beauty. Indeed, if what we do offers someone—in the contemplation of a beautiful object or emotive idea—respite from disturbing events, perhaps we have succeeded in making the world a better place (even for a short while).’ Many artists face the challenge of finding a balance between expressing their artistic vision and meeting commercial demands and that will never change. But Cameron’s final comment very much echoes our thoughts when we first launched The Marshwood Arts Awards. He urged his artist and maker friends to continue their work and said: ‘Although many of you toil alone, you are part of a much larger community, and your role is more significant than you may think.’

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