Making something small happen

art of the everyday

Month: April, 2012

Tract 5 Day 1

So taking a break while you write a PhD proposal is not the best way to keep up momentum. I began today having had the little push of Saturdays distribution but as reluctant as ever. Several people suggested that seeing I have to push myself to go out every day that maybe this style of work just isn’t for me. But the buzz I feel having gone out and done the distribution and the interactions and expressions of people passing let me know not only is this project a test for me but it is a test of the expectations of others.

This distribution is interesting following the last tract ( A love of Baking) as I am far more visible holding the sign and there is no novelty of free buns to ease the interaction. This tract asks are you lost? I held the sign above throughout my distribution and offered directions to those that asked. I stood at Cornmarket for todays distribution though I would like to try moving around a bit more to keep with the crowds.

The sign needs a little adjusting tomorrow as it is more difficult to hold than I anticipated especially in the wind but as a visual it worked really well. Several people stopped that were looking for directions the first a group of school kids wanted directions to a piercing shop I hadn’t heard of but I was able to direct them to another piercing and tattoo place which I know well. They seemed a little shocked that I would know somewhere like that but took their hand drawn map and went off to find it. One of the boys had no ID and was looking for somewhere that would pierce his tongue anyway.

The next person was looking for the Merchant and had spent an hour wandering around Cathedral Quarter without finding it, she took a hand drawn map to use tomorrow as she hadn’t time today to look again. After this I helped a young couple find JJB sports by looking it up online on my phone and another group of tourists to find Waring Street as they were looking for somewhere there to get something nice to eat.

A couple of women stopped to take my photo and several people commented on their way past with one boy saying “no, im not lost you have found me” Those that needed directions had no problem in asking and many fewer people took a religious connotation from this action than usual however those that did where really angered by the saying on the sign. I found this strangely pleasing as that is the same anger I feel when asked if I am saved.

If you are lost in Belfast keep an eye out for me and my sign I’ll do my best to give you directions.

What art evangelism really looks like. . .

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When I am standing alone for a long time it allows me to think about the importance art has and the best way to share this. How do you measure the interest art holds outside of its practitioners, critics and curators etc? My work deals with universal questions of belief and belonging whilst tied to the specific context of Belfast it can reach far beyond, but how many are put off attending events or responding to blog posts because they arrive under the label of art? The church has many ways of disguising their tracts nowadays, they look like night club promos or gift vouchers and so again I am in a similar position, should I  change the appearance my project has to make it more appealing at first glance? With my love of baking tract people accepted them at first as they came with buns in Downpatrick several people asked where the buns were now? Novelty and gimmick do attract more interaction but this work is not just about interaction but the lack of it also.


evangelism as art/art as evangelism

I was invited to perform at the Creative Change Northern Ireland Exhibition today in Downpatrick. ( Bronagh Lawson had asked that I transport my practice to Downpatrick and I was really interested to test the work outside of Belfast.

I brought a selection of the tracts I have produced so far and set myself up at a bench around the corner from the St. Patrick Centre where the exhibition was being shown. In Belfast I pick locations used by street preachers or evangelists but I don’t know much about Downpatrick and so I picked this spot as it was practical and a nice mix of shade so I could see properly and sun so I wasn’t too cold. It was a popular spot as I was joined by two charity collectors during my hour and a quarter.

After a clumsy start which involved chasing some tracts down the street after they blew away I settled into my normal routine. I began to realise that although I still find giving the tracts out in Belfast scary, that I recognise a lot of the people who pass by and find this reassuring in a way. It is a familiar rejection rather than an unknown one.  In Downpatrick I felt a little lost. It was also odd as there are so many visible churches in Downpatrick and on my journey there.

A few people stopped to ask what the tracts were and one lady took a Love of Baking tract and sent her friend back to get the others, she thought they were all recipes and wanted the full set, I reached for the others to hand them to her but explained they aren’t all recipes so she walked away without a word!

A young man walked past and asked what they were I again was holding a Love of Baking tract and said it was a story and a recipe, he took it and when he passed by again later he said good work. Another lady stopped to say her grand-daughter makes buns but she doesn’t give them away she sells them. And she finished by saying how pleased she was to meet have met me.

When giving out the other tracts I felt more unsure of the reaction I would receive. It was obvious people recognised them as religious literature as so many people looked at them and moved away or gave dirty looks as they passed. I feel a little out of practice in giving the tracts out as I have given more time over to reading and writing than I have done for a while. I am waiting to hear if I will get an interview for a PhD which would allow me to continue this project and really build on its criticality and focus. Once I hear I will add the proposal i wrote to the blog, for now here are some images from today.

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