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Peace Machine No. 2

Peace Machine No. 2 at the Passion For Freedom festival, Mall Galleries 2015

In 2015 I was invited to speak about provocative art at the Eastern Partnership Culture Congress in Ukraine.The theme was ‘the mission of culture during crisis’. I realised this was the first time I’d been to a country that was actually at war on its own territory.

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 I got talking to someone whose younger brother, just a boy, had been wounded at the front and she showed me some bits of the shrapnel that had hit him and a heavy caliber bullet he’d brought back with him on leave.

I was instantly drawn to these little nuggets of human suffering. They were tangible symbols of the horror and reality of warfare and it was very disturbing to handle then. War and peace, nationhood and identity have been constant themes in my work and I often incorporate casts of emotionally loaded objects. Since I always travel with my materials, I turned my hotel room into a workshop to make plaster copies of these items. I didn’t know what I would do with them but I knew I wanted to do something.

This is how my artworks begin. Something like this niggles me and it’s like picking at a thread. As I work on the concept it slowly unravels and I find out what I’m doing and why, simply by doing it. For me this is about all wars. I’m not taking sides. War is barbaric, full stop. Soldiers and civilians are equally victims of war. They don’t start them, they are just caught up in them. In the end nobody wins.

“War is young men dying and old men talking” Franklin D. Roosevelt

I have converted this arcade vending machine to resemble a mortar bomb. The capsules inside represent the ball bearings used in improvised explosive devices. Each one contains a plaster cast of those pieces of shrapnel or bullets. Normally these machines might dispense toy soldiers to children but this isn’t for kids and war isn’t a game. Have a play and take your chances if you get shrapnel or a bullet. When you hold these items in your hand I hope it will affect you in the same way it affected me.

This is only place you can buy original artworks by me for just £1.00!! Try to collect all three pieces. I will personally donate this money to charities working to help people in areas affected by war.

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Final Assembly

Finished Parts

Modifying the Vending Machine

Casting the Bullet and Shrapnel