It’s been a while. But today’s post comes courtesy of Mary Cavendish in Hastings, who alerted me to these remarkable street art interventions happening in the streets around St Leonards on the South East coast of England. All the work is by the temps: an anonymous collective of artists, photographers, writers, film-makers and mental health professionals creating impermanent artworks around Hastings and St Leonards during Coastal Currents Arts Festival 2014.
Mary sent me a link to an online post in which author Richard Makin responds to the temps’ Writes of Passage guerilla exhibition in a polemic titled Situationism on Sea (Hastings Online Times). He writes:
“Someone once wrote: ‘You make interventions; I am the intervention.’ This declaration surely applies to the temps, whose unsponsored wheat-pasting and stencilled poetic fragments have already triggered reaction from Hastings Local Authority; this body promptly discharged a jobsworth to remove any artworks daring to raise a head along its vaunted seafront. Notwithstanding, the majority of the temps’ valuable contributions to the Coastal Currents Arts Festival have survived municipal vandalism.
“The brief is simple: the use of art as a transformative medium for psychical healing, a vital strategy in a context of medication randomly administered with the aim of a rapid return to the obedient norms of work, shopping and infantile leisure pursuits—this succinctly expressed by one contributor’s ‘Care Plan’, culled from actual medical reports: ‘Increase anti-psychotic medication, ensure dosage is high enough to decrease over-thinking and expressed emotion’ [. . .] It is poignant to reflect upon the years commonly spent on a waiting-list for effective psychoanalysis, set against the brief hours it took to remove some of this extraordinary artwork from our promenade (ironically, an environment in which a mediocre effort by colour-supplement street artist Banksy has been dutifully protected behind perspex by the Local Authority, who cannily recognize its value as a faux-anarchist tourist attraction).”
Read more at Hastings Online Times: Situationism On Sea
Mary sent some photos and a link to a blog from which the following quotes have been taken. Follow the link at the end of this post to the temporaries blog.
“The work that I have contributed was borne from an intuitive gut instinct, a driving force that I could not name, could not express, and barely understood at the time. The freedom to express emotions through making work can be cathartic but it can also allow for deep-seated feelings to emerge and resurface. It is a raw response, a physical manifestation of feelings that were, and still are, at times, too difficult to bear. Decades later it seems as relevant as when it was first created. For me, there is no need to justify my work or explain it, my piece is doing the talking, not me.
“The streets are a public space, a place where people who may never enter a gallery space can come across works, often unexpectedly. The works are diverse – there are collaborative works using pen, paper and colours; there are chalk spray-painted adages and designs cascading down stairways; there are one-off pieces and multiple poster works, and a document that parodies mental health assessment. They are unapologetic, challenging and authentic. And all of them have been made with heart and soul. There are no titles or captions to explain any of the works, and no artist names to attach to them either. The fact that they are all anonymous only serves to foreground the work, rather than the creator of the work. In the canon of visual art, the preservation of anonymity can strip works of monetary value as attaching authorship to art is key to creating value. But what is it, or who is it, that bestows value on work? And why are some pieces sanctioned and others not?
“In St Leonards there is a double standard. The council seems to be saying:
Let Banksy be by the sea, but white wash the rest of them. However, if I am encased in Perspex along the seafront, will I remain intact and become a tourist attraction? Watch this space.”
“I made a stencil of ‘this too shall pass’ which is a phrase from 12 step recovery which i thought was a good comment on the changing nature of mental states and the impermanence of the art we were doing (I used chalk spray paint). After 13 years of hearing this in meetings it felt great to put it to good use.”
“As someone with personal experience of mental health issues, involvement in this project has been hugely cathartic. I have been gradually exorcising my demons through art and writing since my breakdown last year and thanks to this and the incredible support of my counsellor and local mental health services, whose work I found to be incredibly attentive, in depth covering all aspects of one’s humanity, including relationships, personal history, work and spirituality, I feel I am now finally on the road to recovery. I found that the act of posting my work on the walls in our locality to be so powerful as it symbolises the bond between mother and child, specifically between myself and my five-year-old daughter. I collaborated with her to create the works, as a way of celebrating the positivity engendered when this relationship is a healthy one. As someone who experienced overt control and endless restrictions from her own mother, this has been incredibly cathartic for me. I intend to continue this work and would like to see the project grow and grow in order to raise awareness of mental wellness/illness and support those who are suffering from deep-seated mental health issues.”
“When I was posting my drawing and the accompanying song lyrics a gang of young men asked if they could look at what I was doing. I said ‘of course, that is the point’. I explained to them that putting the original drawing up was a way of honouring my Dad who is dying and reminding people to make the most of each other. They seemed genuinely moved and said they’d let their friends know about the piece. It’s good to be reaching audiences that wouldn’t frequent art galleries.”
To find out more about the temps go to: thetemporaries at blogspot.com.