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> > > 100 Artists for World Aids Day

6 December 2009

five medication bottles with the word human spelt on each container Vince Laws

Image: Vince Laws

100 Artists took part in an exhibition to raise money for the Sussex Beacon, at Concorde 2, Brighton on Saturday 29 November 2009. One of the artists, Bonny Cummins, gives a personal response to an emotional day.

You can actually see all the fantastic works up on the 100 Artists for World Aids Day website, on exhibition until next years event. Twenty percent of all sales go to the Sussex Beacon so please check out the slideshow of the work online.

The Beacon does amazing amazing work providing residential care centre as well as health management services for men and women living with AIDs.

The purple vibe in the Concorde; glimpses of the sea on rain battered windows; violent waves dashing the shore; billowing smoke and pulsing music; rotating disco lights - all created an intense atmosphere. The spots swooped and swirled around the room randomly illuminating the arts works on show.

DJ-Jones played a great selection of music from Joy Division to Morrissey and everything in between. The artists and guests did the circuits, meeting old friends and making new ones.

Miss Dolly Rocket, Brighton Gem and Hostess, sparkled and reminded everyone what the day was about.

I set up near Vince Laws who was creating a piece with medicine boxes. We made friends and he offered to get the drinks in. I finally set up and took a moment to nab Vince and check out his work properly. I panned the installation and the impact, finally seen from the front, hit me.

He waited and waited for my reactions; bless him, until I understood that he had been diagnosed. I felt the pain, heard the honesty loudly and clearly in the work.

I felt choked. His face and eyes were full of compassion as he waited for me to get some words out. I think maybe I would have said “I am so sorry. This work is awesome,“ or tried to give him a hug. But in honesty, words seemed like a drop in the ocean.

This work spoke loud and clear. The pile of empty pill boxes with humanising passionate paint on them. The heaving fragile boxes with the chemicals and alien drug names that become your life and life-line, now transformed into Art which depicted Diagnosed HIV positive, Human. The random letters on the empty boxes heaped on the floor spelling out his life.

I knew he was due read his poems very soon and was building himself up for it, so I was wary of saying anything emotional. I asked which poems from “Beckham by the Balls“ (available from the poet) he had chosen to read. “You will have to wait and see” he said laughing. He read Diagnosed and the room was seismic as he held it together to open his heart and melt ours.

After the reading, he went to get a break and I kept an eye on his work. A young couple stood in front of the installation.The guy reached down and moved the boxes. I explained that it was an installation. He wanted to make a word he said and looked embarrassed. I asked him what word? H O P E he said placing the word, spelling it out.

He said his message was for the movement by which, I believe he meant World Aids Day. I said cool. He left happy with his interaction with World Aids Day - joyful that he could add his words of Hope to those of the Artist, whilst blowing a kiss on film.

I thought deeply on whether to share this, as it’s so personal. “Of course you can use it. Use it all,” he said “Its fine.” What about the You Tube Tags I asked?” He sent me this: Vince Laws/ Poet /Artist /Human HIV Diagnosed /Beckham by the Balls / Wow! What a strong character and lovely man.

I sent Vince a little print of my Peace Angel. He mailed me to say thanks and that coincidentally,The Angel was the main view from his flat in Brighton before he moved. She had followed him home.

Below is a poem from the collection Beckham by the Balls ... and other poems by Vince Laws

Diagnosed
for Michelle & Frances

I went to the doctor’s on my birthday
He was so embarrassed he’d forgotten the date,
he gave me a terminal illness.

 

Ever since, Angels have followed me relentlessly,
opening doors and showing me skies
that the living never notice.

 

If the small frayed knot in my guts comes undone
I will empty into the universe
until the atoms of who I am become undetectable.

 

I consider stepping under the proverbial bus
but sense my soul already has a suitcase packed.
In defiance, I buy a return and sit upstairs.

 

There’s nothing brave about living with death
when you consider the options
If I believe in fate, I can’t cheat it.