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Currently exhibiting:
Rogue Women
The Manchester Contemporary

Bare Arms, Cold Hands

Sandy Hook background.jpg

This sculpture is made up of 26 moulded wax bullets. Each one represents a life lost in the Sandy Hook school shooting on 14th December 2012. In total, 20 children were killed that day, alongside 6 teaching staff. There were copious amounts of hopes and prayers, but no change to gun law, no sincere review or audit within the NRA and no justice for the parents, friends and relatives of those who were murdered. But what there has been since 1990, is an increase of mass and school shootings. A normalisation of fear, tragedy and an epidemic in the belief that the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun, is to have more good guys with guns.

From researching obituaries and local reports, each crayon has been assigned a colour which symbolises something to its namesake, and a hue name (in the three languages seen on a traditional wrapper) that reveals a little about their character. This process was heart breaking: not because I found so much pain, distress and agony, but because in its place was a flourish of memories and recollections filled with joy, selfless actions and contentment that these children and adults brought to those around them. The pain belongs to us, those that remain, the victims should be remembered for the positivity they generated in life, not what is felt in losing them. Therefore, each crayon is a true celebration.

For example, there is Dylan, he loved to paint big purple dots each day in school and play on his trampoline. Dylan had a form of autism and would flap his arms when excited, explaining this was because “I am a beautiful butterfly”. There was a very strong bond between Dylan and his teacher Anne Marie Murphy, who provided great support and nurtured his educational, and emotional journey. When Anne Marie’s body was found, her arms were wrapped around Dylan. They are, as they will always be, sat protectively beside each other on the board.

There is Jesse, a boy described as fearless, courageous and brave like a little soldier. His blue crayon is symbolic of the trust and protection he embodied right until the end, when he shouted for his classmates to run whilst the gunman was reloading. He saved up to 11 lives in that moment, whilst losing his own. The last words he wrote on the family chalkboard were ‘Norturting Helinn Love’ (Nurturing Healing Love) which his grieving mum developed to become a movement focused on the cultivation of a better world. 

And Josephine, a mischievous but determined little girl who had struggled with language development after being diagnosed with autism, global apraxia and apraxia of speech. This did not stop her friends from learning sign language, encouraging and including her through this communication. Josephine has a special ASL hue name, so that we can all learn and signal how she was described by family, as a gift.

I could write about each life taken and what we have lost because of the massacre that day, but the fact is, since 1990, there have been 549 school shootings, but the likelihood of that number being correct at the time you read this is very low. Every one of those lives deserves a spotlight. Due to the greed and corruption of the National Rifle Association, the chance of America securing tighter gun control is negligible. The NRA has the power to intimidate and even remove politicians who vote against its agenda. They fund the campaigns of opponents, providing resources and money to ensure they control the seats in congress that will consolidate their antiquated historical ideology: the right to the second amendment in order to be a true, authentic American.

As each school shooting is reported, we look on in horror at the stagnant response of those in power. We saw nothing change after Columbine in 1999, after Sandy Hook in 2012, after Parkland in 2018 and Uvalde in 2022. It is clear to see why no action is taken, no one has the courage to stand up and show what a real American hero would look like because the NRA would destroy them. Below the name and age identified on each crayon is the address www.sandyhookpromise.org. This is an organisation founded by Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley who both lost their sons, along with Bill Sherlach, the husband of school psychiatrist Mary. Imagine your child, or loved one is murdered using a weapon that is state sponsored, promoted even, but your own government does nothing to stop this tragedy happening again. In an attempt to protect future generations Barden, Sherlach and Hockley created a system where schools can sign up to learn the signs that can lead to violence, help advocate changes in gun law and distressingly, anonymously report concerns about behaviour they believe could lead to someone hurting themselves, or others.

Is this the responsibility of children? 

These bullets are displayed on wooden boards taken from a primary school floor. Crayons are the only thing that should be found there, not bullets, not bodies. There are many widely known phrases about the symbolism of ammunition. The from the old superstition that everyone has a bullet with their name on it, to the serious significance of knowing you have to do something very difficult, will the American government face their dysfunctional and violent culture and bite the bullet?

Recent exhibitions

Open 23 / Bury Art Gallery, Manchester/  2023

Tees / Rogue Artist Studios, Manchester/  2023

LIPF / Shoreditch, London / 2023

Rogue Women ll / Rogue Artist Studios, Manchester/  2023

 

GreedSaint Nics Gallery, Weymouth/  2023

WCAF / Warrington Art Gallery, Warrington / 2022

LIPF / Shoreditch, London / 2022

Open / Air Gallery, Altrincham /2022

Indy Biennial / Independentsbiennial.com /2021

 

Open / HOME Gallery, Manchester / 2020

Heart / The World Of Glass, St Helens / 2019

20/20 Print Exchange  / International Exhibition / 2019-2021

Open/ The World Of Glass, St Helens/ 2018

 

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