'You asked what art can do

I wanted to write you that it
can make a spark flames
and a puddle ocean
a river tears
a room a world
a cry song

and it can tell a story of a time
and it can slow time

some love art because it's a really good mirror
in which something - a place or an era perhaps - is naked
or vivid
I mean
seen like it wasn't seen before

others love the art thing
because it brings postcards of the world transformed
redrawn or on its head
strange or stronger
worse or better
and people need those kinds of views on what isn't,
just as much as they need
a good view on what is

I meant to write you that art
can close a wound
and open a legal case
that it can stare further than a telescope
go faster than Internet and
beat like a loved one's heart

it can bring people together and
of equal and not opposite importance -
it can split them up,
make them doubt or wonder who they came in with
or who they live with
sometimes - watching science TV - I think art
it's like the large hadron supercollider of the soul,
other times it's just making people laugh
no shame in that

I wanted to tell you that art is loved as a hammer
because of how well it breaks lies and speaks truths
knocks down obstacles
the Incredible Hulk it is or the Superman, a good thing to have on your side

it can say something
many things
any things
can say much
or little in the best way of things
and I think it has value not always bound up with price

when I was 22 I first moved to Sheffield
and one spring in the high rises near us
someone had sprayed on their window, high up
and I thought that was art. Very beautiful. Very wise.

And in case anyone is wondering, art is not a servant of any government
nor of any policy, nor of touristicism
nor a servant of money
nor an icing on a cake
it's more the heart of the matter than the wrapping paper
or something to do afterwards
and it does not belong to liars

Some years back, I went to see a Derek Jarman retrospective
at the Serpentine Gallery in London
I came out of that all fired up.
I was alive again and I hadn't even noticed I might have been dead
I was thinking a lot about that special place of both art and reality that he opened up,
how valuable that was
and I was thinking
that in future we might have to be a lot kinder
and a lot angrier.

That's what art can do.
And people should be careful with it.
Otherwise they may wake up one day and have to live alone
With no hammer of change, no truth, no laughs,
No bringing together or wondering apart
With no reflections, no possibility to reflect
Just living alone with only their ghosts and their ideologies muttering at them.'

Tim Etchells, Artist, writer, performance maker, Forced Entertainment


Kate Longmate

Beachcombing, bonfires, theatre, music, politics, visual art, social justice, literature, walking, junk shops, kitsch... Bread AND roses.