Yesterday I went to St. Paul’s cathedral, to join in with Occupy London. And to do some drawing. As you might know, I’ve got some health issues from being really sick a few years ago, so this was the first protest that I’ve been able to attend (as it involved sitting down somewhere and not walking around).
Such was my fear of being kettled that I walked the long, non-enclosed route from the tube station to the front of St. Paul’s. When I got there I saw loads of tents, tied down, and a fair few people milling around outside. There was even a guy in a miniskirt doing Irish dancing on the steps of the cathedral.
I sat down and produced my first sketch, below, but while I was doing it a sparkly-looking London researcher came up and wanted to talk to me. I said I’d rather get on with my drawing. Then, after a little while, an aggressive dick with an iPhone tried to ask me some questions about why I was there, but I told him I’d rather do my drawing. Although really I didn’t want to talk to him because he came across like a dick.
Other than annoying media-types, I didn’t talk to anybody else at the protest. A policeman did say that the top sketch was “GCSE-standard” after peeking over my shoulder, but thankfully they didn’t ask to see my artistic license. After a few hours, I decided to go somewhere to warm up (preferably somewhere that wouldn’t make me feel guilty about buying a coffee) before headed to the DACS/Artquest talk about artists in the current economic climate.
(Above: view from cafe near Holborn)
I felt a bit rubbish at the talk, probably owing to sitting outside in the wind for so long, and so I again completely failed at talking to anyone. A regular billy-no-mates, that’s me! The talk was about how recession and government policy would affect artists incomes, and what tactics they should use to maintain income. Bob and Roberta Smith, one of the speakers, was massively scathing of the current government, but also produced the funniest line of the night, pointing out that “if your son or daughter (who is involved in the arts) meets another person involved in the arts… then penury ensues”.
Both in the arts and elsewhere, there is a growing sense that merely being dissatisfied with the current power structures isn’t enough. I’m not sure how that will shake out, with either the people at St. Paul’s or the arts community, but a friend told me that it was important that I stood up to be counted. Technically, I sat down and refused to be quoted, but maybe that’s good enough.