It’s Time

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It’s time to run to the mothers
For the fathers have waged war
They have kicked strangers and children
And now their fathers will push you to the floor

It’s time to turn to the mothers
The givers of billions of lives before
More likely to find solutions
Than to send their children to war

More likely to nurture and think
Of how to better the lives they have borne
Than to destroy and dominate
Those already battle-worn

It’s time to listen to the mothers
They listened when the fathers wept
But now is her time for action
Help her to appear on the temple steps

by Caroline Jaine

Macavity: The Mystery Cat by T.S. Eliot

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Full text repeated in honour of the Iraqi Elections 2014.

Maliki Maliki there’s no one like Maliki.

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Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw -
For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.
He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:
For when they reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.
His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,
And when you reach the scene of crime – Macavity’s not there!
You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air -
But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;
You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.
His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;
His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.
He sways his head from side to side, with movements like a snake;
And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)
And his footprints are not found in any file of Scotland Yard’s.
And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,
Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,
Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair -
Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,
Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,
There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair -
But it’s useless to investigate – Macavity’s not there!
And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:
`It must have been Macavity!’ – but he’s a mile away.
You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,
Or engaged in doing complicated long-division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
At whatever time the deed took place – MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!
And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known
(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)
Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time
Just controls their operations: the Napoleon of Crime!

 

Bicycles, Art & Missing School Girls

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Those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook will have noticed a steep increase in bicycle-related art works of late. Just moments before I left the cycle-rich city of Cambridge after 20 years of calling it my home, my arts organisation was awarded funding to run a project for the Cambridge Vélo Festival, which coincides with the Tour de France being in Cambridge. I swiftly tattooed a small bike on my forearm before heading for Spain leaving my co-director, Janice at the helm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been lucky – I have been able to set up an impressive studio in the sunshine and commit myself to painting pictures that celebrate the work of World Bicycle Relief – the charity we are supporting throughout this work. Janice has been busy working with a wealth of bicycle-inspired talent and I am looking forward to returning to Cambridge soon to experience a sculpture trail of pieces all constructed from bicycle parts (Recycle Le Vélo) and a bicycle themed take over of the gallery at Cambridge Contemporary Arts.

Meanwhile, here in Spain I have been unable to escape bikes! After a saga which involved having to leave my trustee two-wheels in Cambridge, I set about finding a replacement here in Murcia. Just a few blocks away from my studio I discovered an amazing cycle hire business run by a Welsh bike enthusiast. The owner collects old bicycles and bicycle memorabilia, and he not only provided me with a bicycle (which I have since sprayed and made gold), but has offered me a Penny Farthing to “decorate” and commissioned my first painting here in Spain (of a bike, what else?).

Yesterday I took my first venture outside of the small town I live in and headed for Spain’s seventh largest city – Murcia. After bus and tram, I climbed the hill up to the impressively modern Fine Art faculty at the University, where I had a pre-arranged meeting with Victoria Santiago Godos. It was a hot and humid day and the concrete blocks and high ceilings of the building provided an industrial cool. I found Victoria in her office. One of the first things she did was point and grin at my bicycle tattoo. Me gusta las bicicletas, I offered, as we embarked on a two-hour discussion in my poor Spanish and her slightly better English. Victoria then revealed that as well as being Vice-Dean of the Facultad de Arte, and fine art lecturer, she also appeared to be one of Spain’s most knowledgeable people on bicycle inspired art. The serendipity was overwhelming as she shared a presentation on the subject she had recently delivered. Pictures of bicycles by almost every 20th century artist I could think of filled the screen and many many more images of bicycles themselves – as sculpture, a canvas on which to paint or as simply a beautiful means of transport.

There is no doubt that aesthetically that the bicycle has a lot to offer. However I am also interested in its political loading. The suffragettes called bicycles “freedom machines” and in the early 1900’s many men took a dim view of women who used them. In the last few weeks, I have been painting pictures of African girls riding to school on bicycles that were provided for them by World Bicycle Relief. The bicycle allows access to education for girls, during a time where girls’ education in Africa is making the headlines as celebrities and world leaders shout #BringBackOurGirls in a bid to find the school girls abducted by Boko Haram.

And here is where I really begin to join the dots. One artist that Victoria told me about really caught my eye. He is Fernando Traverso. In 2001, Fernando Traverso, an Argentinian hospital worker, political activist, and artist, began spray painting a series of 29 life-size bicycle stencils throughout the streets of his Argentinian home town of Rosario as a memorial to 29 friends who were abducted, tortured and killed by the government. Today, there are 350 identical stenciled images painted on buildings throughout Rosario and his “bici” has become an international symbol remembering those who were disappeared, particularly in the Latin American “dirty wars”. His unique stencil was downloaded from the internet and used under his instruction – not in galleries – but as creative political statements. This is gentle, creative social-activism at its best.

It struck me that every bicycle I am painting at the moment is for a missing school girl – not just those taken by Boko Haram, but for those missing from school because they cannot get there. I hope that in my writing, painting and activism I can make a small difference – as did my small tattoo spark such a remarkable conversation.

 

Artists and New Technology: Harry Rutherford & the Beginning of the End of Representation

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As I pack my bags for Spain I stumbled across an essay with the above title, that I wrote a few years ago.  Feels like a good time to share it.  Harry’s Spain was Burma, and then Hyde.  I wonder where my creative journey will take me.

Caroline

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Download the essay here

George W. Bush to paint Portraits of World Leaders

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When Huffington Post reported that George W. Bush was about to embark on making a series of portraits of world leaders – I nearly wept at the serendipity of it all.

bush and dogs

I regularly seek space for my diverse set of interests to converge.  As a non-traditional portrait artist obsessed with political propaganda and defacement. As an international relations academic and a former diplomat who served in Iraq (and wrote a book about that).  And as a publisher who has recently published Dr Al Safi’s  book, highly critical of the US in Iraq – this is great news for me indeed.  To add to my excitement, the New York Times reported that the news of the portraiture had been inadvertently revealed by Jim Glassman.  Master propagandist and public diplomacy expert Jim Glassman, doesn’t let anything just “slip”.  I regularly use the footage of him preparing for the Arab Spring (astonishingly in 2008) with my students.

Only last week I penned a piece “Paintbrush Diplomacy” about Hilary Clinton’s (and my own) claim that art and diplomacy needs to go hand in hand more.  Maybe George has read it and been inspired?

The question is…how do I respond. Having produced my own series of paintings called “World Leaders” is it time I came clean and made 19 defaced portraits of Mr Bush?

Prime Minister returns to face Cat Crisis

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Larry_the_Cat_-_May_2011

Prime Minister, David Cameron has flown back to the UK to address what he says are “increasingly serious concerns” over his relationship with Downing Street cat, Larry.   Breaking away from him crucial role of negotiating a truce between the US and German governments over high profile phone surveillance, his return to the UK is amid media speculation of a rift between the pair.

“It’s important for the future of Britain that the Prime Minister not only loves Larry, but is seen to love Larry”, says John Hemming, MP.  Hemming, who two years ago had a kitten stolen by his estranged wife, goes on to say, “any modern democracy is hinged on whether people likes cats or not.  This could end Cameron’s term in office, if he is faced with a no confidence vote”.
The Cameron family have declined to comment on the issue and have asked to be left alone at this difficult time.
A spokesperson for Larry said he was currently asleep.

When Murderers Get Together

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when murderers get together

 

Beware the legitimiser.

In a society where harming animals is not accepted, pulling legs from a fly, squeezing a cat a quite joy.  But meet a hunter or badger baiter and you are more likely to join them take pleasure in blooding faces in red coats.  There are others. Why bother seeking help when nobody else is?

Accepted.  A sexual attraction to minors fuelled by images of children on the internet and then contact with those who feel the same.  No longer alone, not the only one, perhaps it is normal.  Abused yourself, “it never harmed me”  Seeking to normalise.  Mainstream hype and hysteria – thinking it was an affliction that needed help, but no!  There are others.  We can’t all be wrong.

Imagine you are angry.  Not just angry but furious.  So mad you will kill.  Your family dead or dishonoured or both.  You have fire in your blood.  There may be social injustice or a inability or unwilling of those who should protect.  You are powerless, abused, weak, discriminated against.  They hate you anyway, so why not?  The switch flicked and now you are primed to kill or die yourself to express your angst.  Theres not medical intervention for your mental state.  You can’t even share it.  But then you can.    There are others.  Plenty of them.  They feel like you and empower you with the mental and physical tools you need.  They will whip your mind until you will die smiling for them too.

Beware the legitimiser.

 

Manifesto

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(The following Manifesto was developed in the summer of 2011 during a residency at an allotment – “Art, Gardening, Politics & Cake”)

trousers

THIS MANIFESTO SHOULD BE PRINTED ONTO HANDKERCHIEFS AND GIVEN AS GIFTS TO PEOPLE SELECTED BY THE ARTISTS

MANIFESTO Inspired by Manifestos of DaDa and BlahBlah, this is an ironic penning that shouldn’t be needed.

Should artists sit and discuss “the problem with politics” when politicians are unlikely to debate “the problem with art”? Here’s one problem: Less than a quarter of MPs are women, but only 3-5% of art in permanent gallery collections is made by women and only 2.5% of artists in art reference books are female.  Perhaps we need to address the balance at home before straying into another’s House – upper or lower.  Perhaps we will.  But we can get away with political discussions, because this is about all of us.  We live in a democracy –  and it’s right that we participate in this discussion.

I Represent: Politicians are the least trusted profession in Britain.  The public vote for them, yet many feel they are offered an inadequate choice of candidates and that the political environment and the political system does not attract candidates that actually represent their communities.  We would try to change that. We would stop anyone entering the political system via the GSCE-A-level-politics degree-GAP-year-political-internship-political-candidate route.

  • Anyone wanting to stand as a candidate would complete a minimum of one year’s community service in his or her constituency.  A minimum of seven hours a week working as a community level volunteer that MUST encompass a spell in an education establishment, a health facility, social services, police/prisons/ and one other relevant to their constituency.  Where the constituency was home to a high number of immigrants, the candidate should spend a spell in the country of their origin – WHEREEVER this might be.
  • Soft play, soft power – we would provide a crèche for children of MPs and staff and adults would be encouraged to spend at least some of the day in play
  • Kick religion out of politics – we would get rid of the un-elected Bishops who vote in the Upper House, get rid of daily prayers, and cleanse both houses of religious icons and imagery.  Non/multi-faith prayer/meditation rooms would be available
  • Popular politicians, popular culture – All Palace screens would be tuned into to half an our of Britain’s MOST watched TV show every day at three o’clock
  • We like the tea and cakes and the catering staff at the Palace and would keep them, encouraging a mass tea break at three for all whilst watching the tele.
  • No more government cars (with the exception of the Prime Minister who would drive a Rolls Royce) – MPs would get a free bus and train pass.
  • No more life peers – Instead introduce a-bit-of-life-peerages that last a decade instead of a lifetime.
  • Make use of modern technology.  Reduce expenses, by allowing MPs to dial into debates, and vote from their mobile phones.  Remote working will encourage a more diverse range of candidates.
  • Musical MPs – instead of daily prayers MPs will together sing the UK’s number one pop song using Karaoke on the voting screens.  Bringing musical instruments to the Palace will be encouraged.

How it looks: We love talking about the aesthetics of politics and think this is where, as artists, we can offer the most valuable input.

The aesthetics of both House are overwhelmingly masculine.  Hard edged. Somber.  Traditional.  Old fashioned. We like red for the upper house (which could be brighter to wake them up a bit) and the like green for the lower house.  However phallic, we do like Big Ben.  The clock performs a practical function (IE it tells the time well). Aesthetic changes would include:

  • The removal of all old statues of men with swords into one single room.  Anyone who wants to see old men with swords can visit the room.  They will look good all together anyway.  A Dr. Who episode could be made about them.
  • The public entrance to the Palace is grim and dark.  We could make it even more grim and dark.  With wax-work models of every serving MP edging the room.  They could light up when approached.  When a new MP is elected he or she can be made out of the wax of their outgoing predecessor. Research shows that tourists like wax-work models.
  • The portcullis logo should go.  It signifies either a closed, barred gate = no access, or a group of elite locked up, stuck in a castle.  Suggest an open door is used, if a door is needed at all.
  • Positive discrimination against suits and ties. People would be encouraged to wear whatever they like – with the exception of suits and ties (and nudity). Inspired by the struggles of routing out apartheid in South Africa.  This will take time, the rule would be reviewed in 10 years.
  • A large screen will be erected in each debating chamber, to allow MPs and members of the House of Lords to dial into debates.  At other times it could show good British movies.
  • Hard benches should be replaced with arm chairs.  Members would be encouraged to bring in a cushion from home.  And the wool sack has out-lived its purpose (whatever that was).
  • The paintings are too big and boring.  We would advocate a complete audit of all portraits to ensure they are represent a balanced story of British politics (more women in the pictures maybe?)  Consider photos instead of statues and oil paintings – they are cheaper – it’s people’s taxes we are spending.
  • Art schools and organisations from each constituency could submit art work for display on a rolling basis.  Prizes could be awarded.
  • Outside the Palace, we would allow each constituency to set up a market stall selling the best of their local products.  MPs would have to do a stint serving on their market stall.  Stalls would operate as a community cooperative.
  • Some of the Palace could be brightened up a bit with a lick of paint.  One wall could be embellished with stone or brick from each constituent region.

Janice & Jaine