Sunday, February 03, 2008


I am very excited to report that my painting 'Shared Time' has been preselected for the $15,000 Stanthorpe Art Prize which is announced in a couple of weeks. A good way to start 2008.

I have been thinking about the UN's recent announcement of 4 new Peace Ambassadors. It prompted me to google the UN to look at who have been made Peace and Goodwill Ambassadors over the last few years. Well, searching the UN website for this topic is not easy. However, I did find some information. I was searching because I am intrigued about the large number of 'artists' who have been made these wonderfully titled Ambassadors. They are musicians, actors, authors and so on. Mind you, I have not found a visual artist among them....but I have not been able to do a conclusive search so there maybe a visual artist somewhere. But, the bottom line is that the list is predominantly made up of artists in the literary, musical and acting worlds. That's absolutely fine because these people are good with words, performing and getting up in front of people.

In the past I have been a bit sceptical about the UN's Peace Ambassadorial announcements. It seemed to me that the UN was using the celebrity status of people to draw attention without considering any underlying depth. That said, I can understand the tactic of embracing celebrity to enhance a cause because in this day and age a celebrity is going to attract media and mass attention. Celebrity on its own is a wondrous thing, but what about the person who has somehow been bestowed this label? What about the 'artist' that lurks underneath the veneer of celebrity?

I have thought about this a reasonable amount. Is it the 'celebrity' element or the 'artist' element which really carries the truth about these appointments. I suspect that UN and others are not even aware that whilst the celebrity component attracts it is really the 'artist' which holds the depth and compassion needed to carry the import of these appointments. Artists look at the world differently, they communicate differently. They provide an alternative viewpoint, paint pictures with words, gesture, paint, movement and sound. They stir the human being at levels we do not truly understand.

So, whilst there are famous sports stars and people from the political and diplomatic worlds on the list of Peace Ambassador they are outnumbered by the artists. And, I think it is the artists who can make a difference. Some recent recruits to the Ambassaorial ranks are Daniel Barenboim who is a world famous conductor and pianist, Yo-Yo Ma who is a reknown cellist, Elie Wiesel a Nobel Prize Laureate and George Clooney an Academy Award Actor.

The one person with the mass media celebrity status of a Star in the latest Ambassadorial recruits is Mr. Clooney. People may scoff but he is an artist and since making films such as Syriana, Good Night and Good Luck, Michael Clayton we can see there is more than just a pretty face to this man. His efforts in Darfur are also worthy of anyone who tries to make a difference. He shares with his other artist Ambassadors a way of thinking which the western world might be able to feel at some level but cannot identify. My experiences in the Middle East suggest to me that those who live outside the West will and do understand.

Shared Time 120 x 137 cm Oil on linen

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