People can be brought together through creating artwork collaboratively. In this age of fragmented relationships, increasing xenophobia and a pace of life that so often seems unnatural and unsustainable, we need the arts more than ever as a way to express our shared humanity.
In order to change anything, whether tackling a globally significant issue such as climate change or simply looking to make one person’s life less lonely, we need to help each other. My practice is centred around finding ways to facilitate this.
This project (my final piece of work for my Masters in Illustration and Authorial Practice at Falmouth University) was originally going to be focusing on children’s responses to the climate change crisis. Leaves made of recycled paper had been cut out and were ready to be sent to primary schools around the globe, asking each child to create their own wishing leaf – they could draw on it, paint it, collage, write something, whatever they wanted, but the brief was this: “If you could wish the world better, what would that look like? What would your wish be?” The leaves would then be posted back, scanned in and made into some kind of artwork or publication and then installed on a wishing tree sculpture I was making for our final show in September 2020.
Now, of course, we all find ourselves in a very different position. With the threat of the Coronavirus closing schools around the globe and keeping us in isolation, I would like this project to be a response to that and a way of bringing us all together. Leaf templates have been put online on the project’s webpage (https://juliakerrison.com/one-forest-communal-wishing-tree/) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/oneforestwishingtree/) and people are starting to respond. My original aim for the project was to continue my exploration of community art as a way of highlighting current societal and environmental issues, looking at it through the prism of global citizenship and using the central motif of a wishing tree to bring people together to work on something and create a sense of camaraderie and hope. Now, although the ecological angle (and particularly ecological citizenship) has taken a back seat in light of the virus and subsequent lockdown, this study in co-creation and community feels more important than ever, for me personally and for us all as a species.
The posts here are in date order – some are copied directly from my research journal before the lockdown, and so are exploring the old manifestations of the project. Some are more research-based explorations of texts and artists I am using for my critical publication, and are tagged as such. The change in direction and in presentation part-way through the project has obviously been a challenge, and in some ways a disappointment, but I am busily learning new skills as a result and am excited to see where it leads.