Curator Simon Morrissey’s Notes towards an Exhibition
5th Sep, 2017
Iceland Graffitti

September, 2016
The idea is still a sketch in many ways, a way of working combined with a desire to bring together ideas about the public and their relationship to politics and power: for the artists in the show to work with the public. I give the project a generic title for the funding application, something about Plymouth geography. It hasn’t found its name yet.

October, 2016
I am in Iceland. It is freezing. Walking on volcanoes. Turning black rock over in my hands. Steam is rising through the driving snow.

It is still early. We drive on. We need petrol. In the next small town, walking from the petrol station to find breakfast I walk past a parking lot in a back street. On the large white wall behind the single parked car a phrase has been carefully written in 3 languages in 3 colours of spray paint. Green. Blue. Red. The red section is in English so I can at least read that: The first gathering devoted to women’s rights in the United States was held July 19-20, 1848, in Seneca Falls, New York.

I think about Plymouth. Every woman a signal tower.

November, 2016
We The People. We The People (are the work). We The People Are The Work. Now it has a name.

December, 2016
We have never spoken before. I tell him I found his work by chance in Barcelona. A pile of letters in a museum about his project in Mexico where he had exchanged time with prisoners, gone to funerals for them, taken their wives to dinner. I tell him I thought its politics were beautiful. We are talking about artists who work with communities. He says the problem is that there are lots of artists making work now that looks like it is interested in working with people but the artists aren’t really interested in people. And the problem is sometimes you just can’t tell the difference. Apart from when they are beautiful I say.

February, 2017
“What do I mean by ‘articulation and power’? How we as individuals, as the public, get our voices heard within, or against, the structures of power that govern our lives and claim to speak for us. I suppose I am interested in whether art has a role in that, whether culture has in general, whether it is relevant, whether it is able to express something in a different way. And that’s why the idea of the artists working with people from Plymouth in different ways to bringing their ideas to life is important. In this way the voices of the people of Plymouth will, in a very significant way, be the work.”

March, 2017
Please God Make Tomorrow Better. Standing in the rain near the Citadel she says it is a statement of desperation, a final resort. Or a call to arms I say.  A revolution. She says

“Maybe. Yes. It is both”.

April, 2017
A man is singing an old song:

Early every year the seeds are growing

Unseen, unheard, they lie beneath the ground

Would you know before the leaves are showing

That with weeds all your garden will abound

The front garden is full of weeds. My boy kicks their seed heads off, smiling.

The music is leaking outside:

So close your eyes, stop your ears

Shut your mouth and never dare

And if it happens here they'll never come for you

Because they'll know you didn't care. 

May, 2017
We The People Are The Work.

“But what is the work? She says. “Is it the artwork? Is that what you mean?”

No I don’t think so I say. I think I mean the job at hand, the thing requiring our attention and effort.

Yes, The Work is that. The People. Here and now.