Holiness & Justice: Mechanism Of Injustice
Ric Stott, 2016
A limited edition A3, high quality art print signed by the artist, Ric Stott. All profits from the sale of prints goes towards funding the creative, missional work at 35 Chapel Walk artspace in Sheffield city centre.
Limited edition of 25 prints for each painting from the series.
Mechanism Of Injustice
Of all the themes I was invited to explore for this series of paintings this is the one I approached with the most trepidation. I was asked to make a painting exploring the experience of asylum seekers in the world today.
Some issues feel too big and are so overwhelming that my temptation is to turn away and do anything to distract myself from the responsibility we all share in the way our increasingly interconnected world crushes those least able to speak out. We live at a time where 1 in every 122 people in the world is a refugee or is internally displaced and more than 3,700 refugees are thought to have died crossing the Mediterranean in 2015.
I don’t even know where to begin with this abhorrent story of our planet. This is why I’m grateful for the likes of Rachel Lampard, Vice President of the Methodist Church and her call to engage not in the sentimental manner of a hand wringing do-gooder, but with a strong, focussed and informed approach that respects all human beings as people to work alongside and not objects for us to do things to. I commend her speech to the Methodist Conference this year that you can read here.
There are cogwheels in this image, the mechanisms of injustice that I am a part of. In the way I live, in the products I buy, in my silence and inaction I am complicit in systems that oppress the poorest in our world, that lead to the displacement of humanity from their homes. I am complicit in racist systems and systems that discriminate against those who are disabled. The complex web of interconnections in the world mean that my actions and your actions have consequences that ripple across continents.
When faced with the enormity of our responsibility if we don’t succumb to the temptation to disengage and look the other way and have the courage to face the grief and pain of this world how can we avoid being overwhelmed by hopelessness? It’s too big for us.
I’ve come away from making these paintings realising that I know less than I thought I knew when I started; art is at its best when it opens up a journey into not-knowing. This is one more question I don’t know the answer to. But I suspect the answer does lie somewhere in the interplay between holiness and justice. When we find for ourselves a spirituality that sustains us and calls us to a deep embracing of the world’s grief then I sense that this gives us the wisdom, energy and (above all) love to enable us to live in such a way that the ripples we send out through the international web of interrelationships result in liberation rather than oppression.
In this image the wheels are cogs that crush and consume, we need wisdom and courage to live in such a way that we are not simply one more cog in the mechanisms of injustice but become the wedge, even the small piece of grit, which disrupts the whole machine.