Black Monday, Black April.

A two pronged, vicious attack on the welfare state yesterday :The Health and Social Care Act , pushing the final nail in the coffin in the NHS through privatisation. A London GP writes ‘People will die as a result of these changes”…
The latest round of benefit cuts, including the Bedroom Tax, pushing the poorest people in Britain into further poverty. The slashing of the Citizens Advice Bureau’s budget so people have nowhere to turn to for support or information on their rights,.
Like many thousands, over the weekend I’ve been feeling sick to my stomach with rage, anxiety and impotence. It’s a living nightmare. This government, utterly contemptuous of it’s own people, stripping us of our rights and services for profit.

What is happening to us? How can we let this happen? What power do we have to stop this?

I’ve been thinking – what real use is my art? Collective blogging, potluck lunches, gift economy projects, skills exchanges, darkroom collectives – it’s all very well, but it’s not enough. Wouldn’t my energy be better spent on direct action? Should I abandon my art activities and just get activist – campaigning protesting, trying to make some concrete change?

Easter Sunday out for a walk with X and the dog, I talked about my despair.
He said, do doctors and teachers question heir profession, or their vocation in times of social and economic upheaval? Do they think about leaving their jobs and going to work in a soup kitchen?
Well, why are you? Why do artists? Is art only relevant in times of stability?

I believe in the power of art. I believe it is essential to life. From individual experience it has transformed me and saved me countless times over.
But when it comes down to my own work, I question my actions, and the value and validity the relevance of what I’m doing. Isn’t it a vanity? Isn’t it a luxury?

X said, look at the Atelier Populaire. Look at Daumier’s ‘Rue Transnonain’ – for the
the radical history and potential of art.

I thought about the upcoming popup zine shop our Loosely Bound zine collective has booked for May in Bradford, and the potential of using this opportunity for a wider purpose than selling our zines. Zines are a democratic unmediated means of self expression. Zines as a form of all self-publishing, gives people voice, agency. We could use the space as a hub for collaborations, talks, workshops, posters, zines, pamphlets, broadsides, information – a space for resistance and empowerment. Is it naiive to imagine, to strive for a contemporary Atelier Populaire?

Can we make this happen? Will it make any difference?