Art has been on my mind: I visited Sydney’s Art Gallery of NSW and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia during a recent holiday and it reminded me how art can unlock ways we see the good, the bad and the ugly in our society, and gave pause for contemplation about who we are and where we’re headed.
I also stumbled upon a home contents auction in Brisbane a few weeks ago where a large volume of art was being sold for prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to $30 000: this was the commercial realities of “art” and how there’s a serious economic system of collectors and speculators, not to mention your tax dollars, fuelling the industry.
The trope of the “starving artist” is an enduring one and continues to this day, and visits to the galleries and the auction forced me to reflect upon the struggles artists face to put food on the table and how we “price” the spiritual nourishment their art can offer.
A complex array of variables such as artist branding, aesthetic trends and art-industry politics play their part; they’re why the flower canvas you see in a trendy gallery versus the one in a local market has about three or four zeroes differentiating the price-tags, even if they look pretty similar.
Our feature this month on Dr Ian Airey looks at the power of art to transform lives. Ian’s work with Art from the Margins (AFTM) is inspiring stuff and our cover this month is by one of the AFTM artists, Kathy Harwin. Beyond the glitz, crazy prices and academic waffle of the art world, Ian’s reflections on creativity and wellbeing reveal how art can overcome the boundaries of disadvantage and disability.
Congregations across Australia supported the Disaster Relief Appeal for those impacted by Cyclone Debbie and Dianne Jensen’s feature reports on how your donations are helping rebuild and strengthen communities. The recovery and healing process is long but positive stories are flourishing from the region as funds reach pastoral support, rehabilitation and community recovery programs.
Finally UnitingWorld’s Cath Taylor writes about her experiences in West Timor and what it taught her about poverty and economics: a mobile phone isn’t always the stuff of luxury, it can be a vital stepping stone towards community development.