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Blog - Deborah Caulfield

Bad things are happening. I did a picture to cheer myself up

squiggly lines in soft reds, blues and greens on a white background. Text above reads: The NHS is being destroyed so I did this picture to cheer myself up.

Pretty picture. 2016. Digital image

The idea for this picture came from a recent post on Facebook by Tom Cox.

It was a sketch of a cat with the caption: ‘One day things will get better. Until then here is a drawing of a cat.’

This seemed to sum up how I feel about my art practice: The complete failure to articulate or address, let alone resolve, the problems in the world.

There’s an argument that says art doesn’t have to achieve anything, it is what it is and there’s an end to it. Leave us alone to do our art! This is what artists say.

Bad stuff happens and there’s not much that art and artists can do about it. Although some people have at least managed to make art that says something – protests – about the shit. For example, Edouard ManetEmile Zola and Pablo Picasso.

And Country Joe.

My problem (one of) is guilt. And shame. I’m a bad person. OK, I’m not. Well, I might be. Yes, I probably am.

But this isn’t the point and it certainly doesn’t matter.

The point is, I’ve never earned a living from art. Apart from a few poorly paid exceptions, I’ve always had to support myself by doing other work. Proper jobs (kind of.)

I do art – doodling and scribbling as I call it, which I know is a form of self-depracation – for amusement, fun and/or from necessity. It arises from some strange need to make things and, perhaps, to express myself in some way, to respond to what’s going on out there and/or inside me.

Is this normal? I’m not sure. Maybe it doesn’t matter, not in the scheme of things.

But social injustice and human (and animal) suffering do matter – to me. And, except for a very few occasions, I’ve done absolutely nothing about any of it.

Crucially, I have never stopped bad things happening.

It’s a problem.

In the meantime, here’s a picture I did on the tablet the other day. It started as an attempt to deal with, graphically express, the physical pain I was in at the time.

I hope looking at it cheers you up as much as doing it cheered me up.

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