In this fast changing world we must do more than cling to the past – we must make it matter.
There is always something of our past in the things we do in our future. This is why the power of traditions and storytelling are so important. We need to preserve these gifts - in painting, sculpture, music, and literature. All of these are ways to tell a story of the past and preserve them for the future.
All my life I have been drawn to stories and storytelling. Humans have an innate need to connect to one another. Through stories we encounter different views, customs, and beliefs – they offer a window into human experience.
Throughout history it is the story that continues the tradition. Think of the cave paintings in Lascaux... These early works of art were stories meant to teach others. They recorded a tradition sacred to the people and provided instruction and guidance for their future generations. Move through the centuries and our memory falls on the Chinese terracotta army, the tapestry at Bayeux and even the graffiti on the walls of the rooms in the Tower of London. The list is thankfully endless and you will all have your own favorites.
This month Europe remembered the fallen of a century and a half of terrible conflict. Not long ago millions watching the remembrance ceremony at the Cenotaph in London saw veterans from the First World War for the last time - their numbers dwindling and their faces fading into history. This year the thinning ranks belonged to the veterans from the second global conflict half a century after the guns were silenced on the Somme. They may be growing old but we will always remember them through their stories - their words reverberating around the world during a two-minute silence.
We live in a global village where stories appear at the touch of a screen. The medium has got bigger but the message remains the same. Lascaux was the Twitter feed and the Facebook page for a community 180 centuries ago whose world stretched only as far as they could see. Their stories were discovered at the outbreak of World War Two. Lascaux is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its message is known all over the world.
The thousands of unique traditions I have encountered throughout my life fascinate me and I am captivated by the rich practices of cultures around the world. They are bursting with diversity, customs and traditions that shaped civilization throughout time.
My paintings and sculptures are my form of storytelling. I document the cultures I witness for future generations so that they can look back with pride on their own heritage and also appreciate the many different cultures that enrich the world.
After a lifetime as an artist I feel I am now embarking on my most ambitious and important project. I believe in the power of love and its ability to bring peace and understanding. The seeds of my new artistic journey – entitled, simply LOVE AND PEACE - where sown many years ago. I hope what I am creating – as it takes root and blossoms across the planet – will bring people together – to share their stories and understand others. I hope many people will come on this journey with me.