Politics & Art?!
Now many years ago I burnt out on Politics, as you do. Family life is hard work, and local level politics ( Community Council ) is a complete and utter waste of time, unless you like long meetings moaning about everything with self serving bigots.
marketing the area for tourism? “No we don’t want more people here.”
tackling local charity corruption & mismanagement? “Nothing to do with us.”
dealing with homelessness of local firefighter? ( not me this time ) “Not our area.”
direct threats to local businesses? “Not our problem.”
Play area for local children? “No point, there won’t be any young children in a few years.”
supporting a sporting Cycling challenge? “No, they get in the way on the road “
recycling banks? ” remove them from village as they’re unattractive”
Youth cafe, ” Nope, will encourage teenagers to hang about the village hall”
Firefighters travelling to a fire being held up by sheep & stubborn shepherd!? complained to police and fire service about us speeding…. and so on.
This along with a general cynicism that has swept the nation led to me deciding that I would only take on work related projects and NOT voluntary jobs for the greater good, or committee work. However, begrudgingly I found myself standing up to be our Fire stations Union Rep. There were so many issues coming down from top management, it could only help our crew if we got more active and started challenging all the pressures heaping upon us. Union activity can be career suicide in the fire service, but rural retained firefighters are in a complete dead end job anyway, so I had nothing to loose.
However once I went on my first union reps course I was convinced and re-energised, the unity, the family, the supportive structure, the warmth and non-judgemental acceptance in all the activists. Also being part of a wider social movement for change, swept away all the tabloid fueled doubts that had crept in in the 25 years since I naively but enthusiastically stood on Miners Picket lines & marched against Thatcher, War, apartheid and everything else.
So this week I went to Glasgow for a three day FBU “Engaging with Politics” course, The mere word politics had put off some of our reps, I was a little sceptical ‘ I don’t need telling what’s what’ – however it was a fantastically stimulating chance to really chew over & thrash out all sorts of issues with good people. The point was “Engaging” as we all feel removed from the work of politicians these days, less empowered, hence voter apathy. But all humans are political animals, we should not be afraid to be active in protecting our families & communities. Another important point for me was that the FBU is not just about Fire fighters jobs & work conditions, its about making our communities safer- all communities. So I don’t need to wear a different hat to campaign about education, environment, the developing world… they are all part of what trade unionism is about, a fairer safer better world for EVERYBODY.
whats this got to do with Art ? well nothing at all, although I am also a member or the Scottish Artists Union, and I recommend other artists join up as there are huge changes sweeping through parliament at the moment with the ‘Creative Scotland’ Bill.
But lo & behold everything in my life has a weird way of fitting in. The FBU wanted one of my paintings to present to our mystery guest speaker. last minute we found out the mystery speaker was First Minister Alex Salmon. Now if that isn’t good for my Art ‘career’ I don’t know what is !
And as for what he talked about & what we questioned him on.. that’s another long story !