Community Arts Illustrated

In at the deep end

An important feature of Culture, Democracy and the Right to Make Art (http://bloomsbury.com/uk/culture-democracy-and-the-right-to-make-art-9781474258357/) is the wonderful set of illustrations created for the book by Jennifer Williams, founder of the Centre for Creative Communities. The final chapter describes how Jennifer worked on these, paying close attention to the metaphors and other turns of speech used by the artists who were interviewed for this book to describe the early days of the Community Arts Movement. Alison Jeffers writes ‘The images that she has produced create a sense of familiarity, partly because they are based on phrases that readers might recognize. However, in illustrating them the metaphor behind them is revealed which generates a slightly jarring quality, asking the reader to reconsider the apparently familiar. Jennifer’s method of populating everyday recognizable backgrounds with slightly disquieting little human figures is a tactic which invites readers to shift their perspective by stopping to think about how to interpret these common phrases in relation to the ideas explored throughout the book’. ‘In at the Deep End’(above) reflects the sense that many artists had that they were experimenting with new ways of working and making different kinds of connections with communities, with varying degrees of success!

‘Funding the Dandelions’ (below) refers to an image from the Seventies which Gerri Moriarty describes as ‘coordinated by Martin Goodrich of Free Form Arts Trust, who drilled a number of Association for Community Arts members and supporters in a Chinese Placard demonstration on the pavement opposite 105 Piccadilly Gardens, the offices of ACGB (the then Arts Council of Great Britain)Each of us carried an individual placard, which fitted together to make a huge image; on one side, there was a profusion of golden dandelions surrounding a single rose, dripping poison and covered in thorns (a reference to limiting public funding to a small number of ‘centres of artistic excellence’). On the other side a slogan read ‘Never Mind the Roses, Fund the Dandelions’.

Fund the Dandelions

Watch out for next month’s blog, when Alison Jeffers will discuss one of the key conclusions of our research into the early days of the Community Arts Movement.

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6 Responses to Community Arts Illustrated

  1. alison jeffers says:

    The visually astute among you will also realise that it’s one of Jennifer’s illustrations on our banner here!

  2. cscarts says:

    Yes, what about the dandelions! Love it!
    (p.s. the pedant in me misses a word on line 6; ‘used by the artist’?)

    • gerrimoriarty1virginmediacom says:

      Thanks to pedants everywhere – correction duly made!

      • Steve Trow says:

        Well done both on completing the book – I look forward to reading it when I can get a copy! In the meantime… as one of the other placard holders back then in 1975 (and as an inveterate pedant both then and ever since!)… the legend on one side, as I recall, was actually “Cut the roses” and on the other “Feed the dandelions!”. The problem however was that Martin and Free Form had somehow contrived to paint the slogans before they’d cut them into individual placards for each letter. So as the assembled Arts Council crowded to watch us from the window of their first floor boardroom, they were treated to the sight of us solemnly turning “cut the roses” to read “snoilednad eht deef”.
        As I remember, a lot of running around and reshuffling was required xx

      • alison jeffers says:

        Hi Steve There are many accounts of this event but I like this one a lot! Hope you get hold of a copy of the book. It’s expensive because it’s aimed at university libraries in the first instance. It will be coming out in paperback in about 18 months and that’ll be much cheaper obviously. We’re planning a launch for the spring. Watch this space!

  3. Pingback: Martin Goodrich and Free Form Arts Trust – csdartjournal

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