Christ and stones

April 2, 2003

For over nine months I have been slowly working on the sculptural bench ‘Christ and his followers on the Sea of Galilee’ for a church minister in America.

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Eighteen stones loosely embedded in the wood represent us humans; a heart shaped stone (compassion) in the middle represents Christ.

The basis of the concept for this piece comes from the Biblical quote: “Let ye without sin cast the first stone.”

100-0009_IMGEvery human has a shadow side. My consistent prayer is that all of us humans can learn to work together, using ourselves (our stones) to build a foundation of love and trust throughout the world instead of throwing ourselves at each other with hatred and fear.

Presently, in Tasmania there is a lot of debate centered around a government corporate enterprise, Forestry Tasmania, being a major sponsor of the Ten Days on the Island arts festival. Because Forestry Tasmania continues to clear fell old growth, ancient rainforests for wood chips and replant with monoculture plantations, many artists oppose what they view as governmental exploitation of the arts to propagandize the destruction of these forests.

What follows is a three minute speech I gave at “pub debate” last night in Hobart over the use of questionable tax payer’s money to fund the arts. Three minutes is not sufficient to fully develope any sort of argument, but I hope you, the reader, can glean something from this speech.

Ratbags and art funding

It seems that the managers of the arts and festival boards favour money over ethics.

They try to excuse their acceptance of tainted money by saying: “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. By so doing they make superficial the great human quest to become a better person.

I say: If you are going to quote the Bible, understand fully what you are quoting.

Christ understood that all humans have a shadow side. And Christ would have understood that the paper to print the Bible comes from trees. But Christ would also say that paper made from clear felling old growth eco systems is a defilement of the divine creation.

And Christ would have joined us artists to throw the money grubbers out of the sacred temple of tall trees.

Jim Bacon, Robyn Archer and the 10 Day’s festival board might see the bagman as an indispensable part of the workings of the art world. But I say: “Not in Our name.”

The government wants to lure us in with a financial carrot. But we Tasmanians know that carrots, especially blue ones, are poison.

Forestry sponsorship? Think twice.

Here’s a biblical quote thal all should take to heart: “As ye sow so shall ye reap.”

Why isn’t the foremost important aspect of 10 Days on the Island, not its funding, but its impact on the ethics and morality of the children and citizens of Tasmania?

Playwight Henry Miller: “In any form of art, however trivial, there has to be a point of moral reference against which to gauge the action of our daily lives.”

Tasmania shouldn’t be looking elsewhere for what constitutes world’s best practice. We should be the barometer by which the rest of the world judge their daily lives.

Picasso said that art is not about decorating a wall. Art is war. It is not just entertainment. It is about changing the corrupt immorality of governments, corporations and society.

It makes sense, therefore, that Tasmanian artists would become human shields protecting the forests from the actions of Forestry Tasmania. But, isn’t it all a stupid waste of time and talent on everyone’s part when artists have to be the human shields protecting the integrity of our arts festival from the actions of the festival board.

Ten days on the Island should never have been a propaganda platform for the spin doctors to blind the public to the destructive excesses of their governments.

In the end, it comes down to this for me. As a sculptor in wood, if I have to lose my source of material because of my outspoken stance against the mismanagement of our Tasmanian forests; if I fall foul of any arts grants board because of their alinement with government power brokers, then so be it.

I will suffer the financial consequences because I would rather shoot off my mouth than shoot myself in the heart.

If there is to be any “bottom line” to the festival, it has to be an ethical and moral one. Period. No debate.

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