Figures / 3 December 2014
Not satisfied with her triumphant installation on a column in Trafalgar Square or travelling around the UK in her bed, disabled artist-activist Liz Crow and her team from Roaring Girl Productions is throwing herself into yet another exciting project.
Entitled ‘Figures’, it involves Liz sculpting 650 small human figures, each one representing an individual experiencing at first hand the cuts being imposed by this current government.
When I asked Liz to explain the thinking behind this new project, she told me:
“The project is a mass-sculptural performance that is setting out to make visible the stark human cost of austerity and urge action against it. Our intention is to build strong emotional connections with difficult facts in order to encourage deep public questioning and debate that will continue long after the work is over.”
Over a period of 12 consecutive days and nights, on the foreshore of the Thames and in the run-up to next year’s general election, Liz will sculpt these 650 small human figures from excavated raw river mud, each one representing an individual at the sharp end of austerity.
Along with the others from Roaring Girl Productions, she is also collecting 650 stories from people at the sharp end of austerity, across a range of topics, including benefits reform, local authority spending, homelessness, malnutrition, NHS rationing, etc, which will be read out during the final stages of the project. Alongside this roll call of experience the project team will engage members of the public in discussion about the issues raised by the work.
Incidentally, the number of figures also echoes the 650 constituencies throughout which the effects of austerity are felt, as well as the number of MPs whose choices determine those of others.
Once dried, the figures will be toured en masse in a mobile exhibition that will visit city centres along the route of the M4, from west of Bristol to London, over five days, the figures creating a talking point to involve diverse members of the public in discussion about the questions raised by the work.
In London, the figures will be returned to the foreshore and raised into a cairn.
A bonfire will burn into the night, firing the figures, while their corresponding stories of austerity are read aloud, until the returning tide douses the flames. At first light, the figures, fired, burned and broken, will be reclaimed, gathered and ground down to dust.
In the final phase of the performance and on the first day of the new government's tenure, the ground remains of the figures will be scattered from a tugboat on the Thames alongside Parliament. Figures will end with a poignant reminder of the human cost of austerity and a completion of the lifecycle of the work.
Liz ended our interview by telling me:“ Figures will hopefully raise profound questions about how we treat each other, what kind of society we want to be, and what role we might each of us have in bringing that about.”
You can keep up to date with the Project
The project will have its own website
its own twitter account
and also a zequs page