Tuesday, 15 February 2011

There is Heart at the end of the Tunnel...

"The Tunnel" Winner of the British Heart Foundation Photographic Competition.
Artist: Gillian Hayes
(exhibited as part of "The Colour Red" exhibition at Joseph Pearce's Bar between August 2010 and February 2011)

Every once in a while a piece of work speaks to me. It might be that I'm
wandering round a book shop when I feel a tap on the shoulder. I turn
and nobody's there. But then I look up to find some words are flying in
the air and I know that I'm taking that book home. There is an important
message waiting in those pages.

But it's all too personal, and what speaks to me may well tell you
nothing at all.
There is always the shadow of a doubt when selecting art for an
audience. Independent of its technicality and accomplishment in terms of
measurable talent, to me it is in its meaning that its true value
resides. In its ability to speak and resonate for days, or even years;
Or in its opening a door to a revelation that seems to have been forging in your mind over aeons. As if coming from a previous life.
Like a sudden click. Yet, it feels like a gamble, every time.

That is why I was slightly surprised when photographer Gillian Hayes
approved of my writing a very personal interpretation of her work for
the newsletter.

"The Colour Red" photographs spoke to me from the start. She had seemed
to summarize in 14 shots a passage of transit, a journey to reconcile
mind and heart as in sense and sensibility, inspiration and work. They
spoke to me about the blending effect of cultural encounters, that
things are often not black or white but something in-between. They spoke
to me for days about the changes in my perception, having lived in
Britain for 8 years; and even longer about issues on identity, diversity
and equality.
They even spoke about the transition from multiculturalism (where
identities are taken as fixed and immutable objects) to interculturalism
(where ideas of oneself and the other are in continuous transformation
thanks to our constant interactions) that I had witnessed while
researching for a Phd. All in 14 shots and all in just one click.

But then, these photographs went on to speak to other people. People
with other experiences and backgrounds and perspectives; and one of them
"The Tunnel" has won the first prize at the British Heart Foundation
Competition. For the artist, the prize means well-deserved recognition.
To me, the subtle triumph of a piece of work transcending the personal
and tapping into a universal truth. One that exceeds the barriers of
language, culture, age and class. That's the power of art in its
multiple forms, in images and in words. As in these by the artist
describing her piece:

"The service tunnel, an area mainly unseen and hidden in the depths of a
building, full of pipes, wires and gizmos endlessly and faithfully
chugging away to keep the building running smoothly above. This reminded
me of the role of our heart, which also works endlessly and faithfully
away in our bodies without rest, to keep everything in check."

Simple, yet meaningful words and an image that spoke loudly. And which, it
happens every once in a while, were widely heard.

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