My pledge – Manchester Artist’s Bonfire 28th January 2011

Click for the Manchester Artist’s Bonfire site.
Details of artwork:
I will burn a red wax skull that was part of my degree show installation at University of Salford in 2009. The installation was a personal take on the vanitas still life painting tradition which used the skull to remind us of our mortality and the futility of material things, a Memento mori. I used wax because of its transient nature but used rough layers of vibrant reds to create a rock-like but visceral effect.
The installation consisted of red wax objects on a dressing table opposite a TV on static which was the only light source and its subtle hum and hiss created an intense ‘silence’. My intention was to create a past state of being, a relic of the fear and isolation I felt I had largely overcome.
Pledge:
Vanitas literally means ‘emptiness’. The skull wakes us up; it makes us feel more alive. Burning the skull will be an act of defiance against capitalism and Coalition oppression, the promise of fulfilment through buying and financial gain, manipulating our desires and creative drives to do so. I could sell the skull but instead I choose to burn it; it will be a sacrificial act. I will destroy in order to create, to make art no matter how throttled we become through poverty: by any means necessary.
The skull also represents a crippling fear of mortality I once had, although I will not/cannot abandon this fear altogether as it is vital to my drive to create. The action will be a catharsis on many levels.

Cuts to public funds will make art and artists in this country suffer, but the positive out of the negative, the antithesis to the thesis, could reconnect us with our instinctive creative ‘will’. We may become more in touch with what really moves us irrelevant of monetary concerns. Poverty can inspire, but this is not to condone the impoverishing of artists and the lack of respect this culture has for us as the cuts demonstrate. I hope that we realise we can overcome these obstacles if we maintain our individual and collective passion to create and spur each other on, if we keep on keepin’ on. I hope you will join me in the Danse Macabre.

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Louise Woodcock

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