‘Identity: We are all together’
A blog by Artist Peter Walker
The role that art plays in contemporary life, is often misunderstood. Commercial, illustrative and the fast paced way in which art in the wider sense is presented to us, often belies the true intention of what art is for and what it can do.
Cathedrals have for centuries been sites in which the art of each era has conveyed key messages, thoughts and conditions of life to those who venture through their doors. It is easy to glance upon the marks today and see them only for their aesthetic qualities, the beauty of stained glass, the craft and skill of carvings etc. However we have to remember that Cathedrals, and churches are neither museums and galleries. They are and always have been complex and unique centres for worship and community, for debate and discourse.
As an artist I believe in two contradictory elements of art production. That being “Art for arts sake” where the artists reason to be, is to create. It is such creativity that leads to the conversations around the above mentioned aesthetic admiration of art. I also believe that art is a powerful and complex method of communication, and that the artist is skilled in a means of conveying, questioning and examining the world around us in profound, tragic, beautiful and thought provoking ways.
“Identity” is a sculpture which is both created as a form, a shape, a moment, an aesthetic work of art. However, it is much more, as through these components of art production the question of who we are is explored. By working through colour, movement and representative form the artwork is designed to allow us to take a moment to contemplate what defines us as an individual or within a collective group.
Our identity can be seen to be shaped by characteristics we are born with such as; eye colour, race, gender or characteristics which develop over time; our personality, interests, and beliefs, however it has always been more complex than that.
'IDENTITY' reflects on the fact that in a world of constant change and flux, and in a world where people quickly react to the differences between us, if we look at what unites us and unites every individual on earth, we will see that we are all inextricably linked.
This is key to the design of the artwork and the choice of DNA as the form for the 7 columns. Scientific evidence shows that all current human DNA originated from a single population and that all humans through time are linked. From this, humanity has expanded and human societies populate all parts of the world today.
From that deep link between us, our individualities evolve and emerge, creating the diverse and endless individuals who live and inhabit this world.
Identity is also a fluid and constantly changing part of our lives in society - we are linked, but each of us is unique and individual. We are shaped through our faith, ethnicity, tastes and friendship groups, the culture we are born into and the communities we belong to and engage with, alongside our gender identity.
In a world where we are so unique, where the existential self is shaped and ever changing, and where individuality is complex; it is the central unifying identity of humanity which joins us together.
When we look at art, we can stare in wonder. The wonder we often see in the eyes of many who encounter such installations, paintings and aspects of human creativity for what it is, art for arts sake. Or we can engage with the intention of the artist, with the debate, messages and ideas which it presents.
However, we view artwork, art in Cathedrals is integral to the life of these places. In a thriving Cathedral at the heart of a remarkable city, Liverpool Cathedral is a perfect canvas for art to be presented, with contemporary installations and contemporary artists continuing the traditions of the icon writers, stained glass artists and generations of fine artists, and through our endeavours presenting the stories, narratives and dialogue of the times in which we live.
I'd like to thank the 3,000+ people who participated in the creation of this artwork, and the wonderful team at the Cathedral with whom I’ve worked on three large scale sculptural works and exhibitions here.