On public art, festivals and the power of community

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I spent last weekend in Wellington, visiting friends and enjoying the LUX Light Festival; a free public event that attracts thousands of people onto the streets and waterfront area  to enjoy clever, whimsical and creative light sculptures.

LUX is incredibly family-friendly; the works are easily accessible and there are performances, activities, street food, and a range of glow-in-the-dark merchandise (including ice-cream) to delight kids.

Visitors to LUX gather around 'Control, No Control' by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Visitors to LUX gather around ‘Control, No Control’ by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

On Tuesday as I waited for my flight home, news of the Manchester Arena bomb began to appear. By the time I reached Auckland, it was known that people had died, amongst them children.

With each terror attack, each mass-shooting and atrocity that occurs in the world, I struggle to comprehend how anyone can feel enough hatred and anger to knowingly kill and maim complete strangers going about their day-to-day lives.

I think of the people who rugged up and went out to enjoy street art, and of the people who dressed up and went to a pop concert; of those whose memories are of a fun night out, and those whose lives were taken or forever damaged.

Festivals, concerts, public events; these things are essential to the fabric of our communities. They build and strengthen the bonds between us though the sharing of food, music, art and fun. That they seem increasingly a target for terrorism, is worrying. If we become too afraid to go out and share in the joy and camaraderie of public events, we lose not only personal happiness, but community strength.

Yet in adversity people do come together, looking for ways to connect with our shared culture and common humanity. Manchester’s Tony Walsh has shown how art is integral to this, reading his poem, This is the Place at a vigil for the Manchester Arena victims.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

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12 thoughts on “On public art, festivals and the power of community

  1. I have had these thoughts also—what if we all become too afraid to go to a concert or movie or a rally or a sporting event? There is probably no way those places can be truly secure and safe. But we all need to try and keep our fear under control and remember that life is always full of risks, but we have to keep on living.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Amy. It’s especially difficult to think about carrying on as normal when the places being targeted are full of families and young people. I’ve been the mother outside the concert venue so many times, I found that just heart-breaking.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I take heart from the many stories about people doing good things during this atrocity (and others), helping the victims with no thought of their own safety. I cling to the belief that THAT is the real human nature, though sometimes it’s a bit of a shaky belief.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: Challenger’s Choice (Portraits of a Siberian Iris) | Lens and Pens by Sally

  4. Pingback: On public art, festivals and the power of community — Zimmerbitch – opss3.com 오피쓰 부천건마 부천오피

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