Mene Mene Installation | Leeds
Much of civic life is underpinned by a legal and moral framework which historically has drawn upon Christian themes for its legitimacy. This collaborative art project investigated the relevance of ancient biblical sayings in a contemporary city by recommitting words back into the public arena. ‘Mene Mene’ are the first two words of a damning one liner delivered by God to King Belshazzar, by mysterious graffiti on the wall of his banqueting hall, while he was feasting with a thousand of his nobles. Transferring texts out of church and back into everyday life, where they were first spoken, gave the words new resonance.
Texts were abstracted from their original context and filtered throughout Leeds city centre in a variety of formats from high profile adverts on billboards and buses, to more hidden plaques on benches or engraved paving stones. Some were affirming and instructive, while others were more predictive and challenging. As they entered the public square they evoked different responses as people brought their own reactions to the work: for some, the phrases were hardly noticeable – just more consumer targeted advertising, for others they were reflective and thought provoking.
When Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem and lanes of Galilee he taught in parables and riddles. Often his hearers must have only half heard or half understood snatches of teaching and yet, because of the vivid stories and punch lines, phrases would have stuck in the memory and turned over in people’s minds. The style of Jesus’ teaching was the opposite of in-your-face modern advertising or high pressure evangelism. His teaching was often deliberately whimsical, mysterious and oblique. There was something of the take-it-or-leave-it quality of postmodern communication which this project attempted to recreate.
Mene Mene took place across Leeds city centre for the month of May in 2005.
‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up.’
Mural Installation | Nigeria
In 1983 I was commissioned to create a mural to commemorate the opening of a training centre in Bida, Niger State, Nigeria. This was a collaboration with Nigerian artist, Allah Santali Patita Gbadafu.
‘God made peace through his Son’s death on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.’