Isn’t it strange that certain ‘types’ of people would never appear in a certain type of place – even if this place serves as a public function. Wakefield Kirkgate train station is a very different beast to its sister station – Wakefield Westage – as, because it only has local train services, it has been left semi abandoned in an almost horrifying run down side of town. This station is shopless, assistantless and roofless and is notorious for being a place where dodgy things can happen.
Whilst I was waiting at this station today I thought I saw girl I know (knew, I should say). A girl who has gone on to do well for herself, and is almost certainly on her way toward a very healthy and satisfying career.
I knew before I could confirm it that it wasn’t her. Why did I know though? Because people who are going places – in the way in which it is meant in the modern, post Thatcherite, Britain – just aren’t to found in places such as this train station. To me, the two together – this young hopeful and Wakefield Kirkgate station – would make an almost surreal juxtaposition of imagery.
I am in no way criticising this young woman, or her social circles, it is merely an observation of the fact that certain types of people will not be found in public places which they ‘socially evolve’ away from. Perhaps it is possible to observe the income and opportunity gaps in Britain by visiting a train station with fast services to London and Edinburgh (Wakefield Westgate) and a station wit services to Castleford and Barnsley (Wakefield Kirkgate) – Barnsley being the town this girl originates from hence the reason why I initially thought it could be her waiting there.
Sadly I would say that the description of the average person I have seen waiting at Kirkgate would be a person of around late twenties, wearing tracksuit bottoms, smoking and looking older than they actually are. Truth be told, this girl I mentioned has a social circle of which I always used to envy, and would have wanted to be part – though it was never going to be i wasn’t like them; which possibly says as much about me as different social groups in society. Sadly its unlikely that I would meet a woman I could be with at this station. However the problem is, Nor would I at the ‘going places’ station of Wakefield Westgate. In a classed divided nation, I am in the middle of nowhere, running to which ever one I feel I belong with, which is neither.
“The Show Must Go On!”, 120X80cm, biro on paper
“We must get capitalism back on track! The show must go on!” Who is saying this?
Whenever ‘growth’ is mentioned, in talk about when this recession will lift, it is seen as an absolute good. However, economic growth means growth in construction and expansion. Expansion needs space and resources, but everybody who has taken the time to think about this, knows that the earth, our only home, simply doesn’t have the resources or space to support more growth, without using up all the natural environment, leaving us with no food to eat and no air to breathe – enough said.
Who is encouraging growth and why?
This piece may look more like a medieval depiction of Hell, but the ideas are firmly based on the present. ‘The show must go on’ portrays the final outcome of humanity, if it carries on under this corporate Capitalist system, consuming way too much of the Earths remaining resources, leading to environmental catastrophe and war between nations competing for the limited supplies. All, except the rich elite who may buy their way out of disaster zones, are sleep walking into an inferno.
I have always portrayed the ‘rich elite’ as baby birds sat on a nest of money, ruthlessly competitive for as much as they can get, kicking smaller and weaker ones out of the nest, so that they can have all. They point the way up the stairway.
The law enforcers blindly obey the system, and only have eyes for making sure the system runs smoothly. I portray them as ‘surveillance beings’, nothing but cameras, monitoring the masses for the benefit of the powerful.
The rest of us are too trapped by time and our need for a wage to buy the essentials that are not available in any other way, to do anything but follow ‘the route’. There’s no room for a worthwhile debate on alternatives, there’s no room to act on our questioning of ‘where this is all going’. All we can do is drape ourselves in fashion accessories and do our best to express our individuality through the limited range of consumer produce. We may have concerns about where the system, thirsty for resources is going but we also feel lucky to live a relatively comfortable life.
This life is NOT available to all. In the ditches of this image, is a World purposefully out of view from the ‘consumers’, who occupy the clean stairway. Here lies the first World homeless and underclass, and also the Third World, ravaged by war, deliberately obscured from sight by the powers that benefit from an unequal World.
Here, the law enforcers appear again, only this time their methods are more violent, watching out and suppressing anyone and anything that stands in the way of Capitalism. Conflict over remaining resources and environmental disaster, hits here first, but it will also hit the first World sooner or later.
The resulting, long term effects of ‘getting Capitalism back on track’, to the production level of the past 2 decades (and more) would mean certain death for millions, possibly billions of people, from various outcomes brought on by a sickened planet. Of course, all this writing is very biased to my own views, and I know that I too am in no way a leader in sustainable living, but the presence of a certainty that ‘something isn’t quite right with all this’ persists within me, with every thought and action I take.
I want to live under system where I do not have to be wasteful when I need food and drink, a system where the idea of buying better clothes and other material gains isn’t directly linked with having a better life and being a better person. A system I can live under, where I can wake up in the morning, without the constant, niggling thoughts of ‘how long do we have until all this starts to collapse?’.
Though I have plentiful reason to believe that rampant consumerism on a sickened planet has rendered my person incapable of doing anything but expressing protest through artwork, the fact that I have energy to create work shows that I still have hope that our species can turn itself around from its collision course with both itself and planet Earth.
One has to believe that a fairer and more sustainable system will be born out of an adaptation which forces us to respect the Earth, and each other, more. One day, perhaps the ‘us and them’ could be better used to label the difference between a fierce patriot and a humanist, rather than the divide between rich and poor.
Also, I must add that my artwork is completely useless if people look at it and do not see themselves in these ‘landscapes of people’. We have to believe humanity can find a better way, Capitalism cannot work on a crowded planet, and the idea of the individual in a Consumer society is false, the chain stores and the commercialisation of television are making us less individual.