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Art / photography in a time of madness

Part 2: Doing Good.

Can art or photography make the world better?

In my biased opinion the answer is an emphatic ‘yes’. Firstly, though, a shout-out to the creatives I ‘hang with’ - a group in my home town who are warm, challenging, kind and inclusive. I have spent many an afternoon perched on a stool listening intently to their inspiring conversations. They see the world differently. They see the challenges, the failings and the beauty. They make things better and, in essence, they prove that the creative world can make things better. But, that is a digression - I’ve got to the conclusion without going through the main bit!


We learn through the natural world through our senses. As children this is open and often uninhibited but is limited to what is within their reach; as we grow older we are shown things through imagery - whether that is drawings, photographs, video content - our universe is expanded through what other people have captured and shared. This continues and becomes increasingly important when there is confusion about events or apathy towards them.

It is one of the more difficult roles of the artist or photographer to represent a truth in their work that enables others to see a different perspective. There is another powerful role of the creative though - and that is to ‘do good’ through capturing images that cause change.

By way of an example. In New Zealand each year we see an epic battle occur - the battle of the birds (in the form of the annual Bird of the Year competition). An incredible number of NZers vote for their favourite feathered friend. While the event is not without controversy (illegal votes, the entry of a bat, for example) it is a stunning example of the power of photography. Many of us are voting for things we have never seen in the flesh - only seen ‘described’ by a photograph or image.

I am yet to see a Rock Wren, it is a personal ambition that one day I will (and will photograph it) but for now I have to rely on the work of more intrepid photographers who have managed to capture on camera the elusive little feather ball. I have learnt about this bird because of the work of photographers and I am concerned about it’s conservation status, because of the work of photographers.

The image, above is of a Rifleman | Titipounamu which is in the same family as Rock Wren and which did involve a bit of a hard work to capture!


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