In The Big Issue this week, we hear from Turner Prize-winning artist Jeremy Deller about a new artwork, and who better to quiz him on the significance of the work than Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker?
A cheeky yellow smiley face rises behind Stonehenge in a colourful image that now flanks two sides of Bold Tendencies, an art and music venue in Peckham. “A New Dawn” is an artwork by Jeremy Deller and Fraser Muggeridge that, for Deller, has particular significance in an era of struggling arts institutions trying to beat the odds by reopening after the lockdown.
The site for this artwork has been carefully selected. The not-for-profit arts organisation Bold Tendencies epitomises how, for Deller, “culture is the whole point of a city like London”.
The artwork itself speaks to this unique moment in time for our nation’s art and cultural institutions and what they currently face. It brings together one of Deller’s recurring symbols — the smiley face — and, despite the odds, presents an image of optimism, although Deller tells Jarvis that he’s not a natural optimist. He does, however, have faith in the smiley and in art and culture to “show us at our best”.
It’s a courageous decision to resume activities at these kinds of places in the wake of the pandemic, says Deller, but it is also so important: “the reopening of Bold Tendencies is inspirational”.