When Art and Politics Don’t See Eye To Eye

When Art and Politics Don’t See Eye To Eye

Some would say that all great artists are provocateurs at heart – that is to say that they challenge our basic notions of what art is, what normal is and even what is acceptable in society. There was a time, many centuries ago, when religion basically dictated what artists could portray. Naturally, acceptable subjects were always religious in nature. Even going back thousands of years, civilisations such as the Egyptians glorified their Pharaoh. Even today, there hardly remains any monument or sculpture that is not directly linked to one of the Pharaohs. But once the Renaissance took on a life of its own, many shackles were broken and even everyday objects were acceptable. In the last 150 years, artists have continually pushed the envelope of what art means and what it should depict. That grand tradition of rebellion against the status quo is still alive today. Sometimes, however, it runs smack into a political reality. This is exactly what happened earlier this year in Sydney, Australia.

Road Safety or Politics?

Here is a little background: Before this year’s annual Mardi Gras celebration in Sydney, some artists decided to paint a colourful rainbow across one of the crosswalks in the centre of town. By all accounts, it was a smashing success. Whether you consider it art or not, pedestrians found the colours visually attractive and would often take pictures of themselves or their friends standing at the crosswalk, or sometimes even lying down on it. Granted, lying down in the middle of a busy intersection just to have your picture taken is not the brightest of ideas. However, as far as we know, no fatalities or accidents were reported. And yet Duncan Gay, the New South Wales Roads Minister, ordered that this rainbow of colours be asphalted over. The fact that he did not even bother to consult or inform the mayor of Sydney caused quite a row.

Public Safety or Just Plain Posturing?

Some felt that the Roads Minister was partly motivated by the fact that this particular intersection is in the heart of Sydney’s gay community. The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, immediately got involved, calling it “an aggressive act.” We really don’t know if she was defending the rights of the gay community or the fact that she had not been consulted before the work was done. Supporters of the rainbow crosswalk had hoped that someday it would become as much of an icon as the famous Abbey Road crosswalk in London, made famous by one of the Beatles’ cover albums. Unfortunately, it never got a chance, and now it is only just a part of Sydney’s colourful history.

Feel Free to Express Yourself

As an artist, you may have encountered similar challenges in your career. Art by its very nature is meant to stimulate the senses, get people thinking and possibly create a dialogue on the subject matter. Whatever your particular inclination is, you always need to have plenty of art supplies at hand to create whatever suits your fancy. You can shop in complete confidence at www.jacksonsart.com, where you will find a wide range of supplies that meet your every need.