Politics and Icecream

Art installation made from used coffee cups

Art and politics, I’m not sure if it’s a good mix. I used to think so. I used to make art that explored issues that were current in the media. The Iraq war.  Refugees. Protests. Homelessness. Capitalism. I’d have to admit that it was neither popular nor profitable but now, at the Venice Biennale, it’s all about Capitalism, and War, and Poverty, and Protests. (Ah, Venezia… canal water lapping, Italian icecream, limone, fragole, mela verde… che bella città) … but back to the politics. According to the art critic Laura Cumming: “from rolling news footage to anti-capitalist slogans and the last work of an artist killed by sniper fire… Venice, this time round is nothing if not political”, but I’ve been wondering lately: is this what art is for?

For instance, this is from a lovely inspiring post from a friend of mine in the Netherlands. Quoting from the American author Barry Lopez, she writes:

that a writer(or artist) needs to delve down beyond the purely personal until he/she strikes something universal in human experience which will illuminate all our lives. Also… if an artist is working with rage or pain, he/she has a responsibility to transform it before it hits the page. We all know how bad life can be, we have the mass media to tell us about that. It is the artist alchemist’s task to harness that personal negativity and to transcend it, and to use it as raw material to craft images of hope.

Here’s the link to Sarah’s blog “Art Calling”


phots of costa rican playground

Next I want to bring to your attention a friend of mine from Olympia in the USA (you’d swear I was a world traveller but I’m definitely not). Bil Flemming is just returned home from a residency in San Ramon in Costa Rica. He’s a sculptor who uses recycled materials wherever he goes. I think it’s great what he’s done, brightening up the place for the kids of that neighbourhood. (See above, one of his community projects).

“Images of Hope” – now that’s a worthy enterprise but I’d imagine that sometimes, it’s a tall order for an artist. Sometimes we just want to complain, I suppose. Sometimes we just want to moan. But not you or me, of course.  Perhaps a nice Italian icecream might do the trick ?

Here’s a link to his Bil’s blog “Bil in Costa Rica”


PS The photo at the top is a sculpture of mine entitled: “Celtic Towers” from one of my more political exhibitions – here’s a link below.




  1. hi Eoin, it is a good feeling when someone engages with something one writes and takes off with it. Like our occasional conversations it is affirmative and stimulating. I really like what you’ve written here, these are fundamental questions I think we artists could be thinking about.

    Personally, I prefer Bil Flemming’s community building art as a political statement to more flagrant politically tinted art. Though I think there is a place for both. And certainly what I’ve seen of the art of yours which is concerned with specific issues, this kind of art is good for consciousness-raising. Especially when the artist making it is passionately engaged with the issue, So there are no black and white answers here.

    Back to Flemming’s work, it is political in that it addresses issues like poverty and poor communities. But it is ‘new’, I feel because it recycles, it is playful and generous, and engaged.

    I like your Celtic Towers very much, by the way. Even purely aesthetically it is appealing.
    I’ll check out the links later, thanks Eoin,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Politics and anything isn’t a good mix 🙂 But sometimes when you use art, it becomes a great outlet for one’s feelings about a certain subject while still bringing about awareness. It’s hard to imagine a single political movement or social movement even without the art to back it up, and I suppose that’s a beautiful thing, seeing how it can help a movement progress.

    That’s just my two cents 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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