Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths

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A UK artist has created an art installation as a memorial to the suicide victims of welfare reform.

Melanie Cutler contacted Vox Political regarding her piece – ‘Stewardship’ – a few weeks ago, asking, “Do you think I’ll be arrested?”

The response was that it should be unlikely if she informed the media. The artworks have been displayed at the Northampton Degree Show and are currently at the Free Range Exhibition at the Old Truman Brewery building in Brick Lane, London, which ends tomorrow (June 30).

Entry is free and the installation will be located in F Block, B5.

“I have become an artist later on in life,” Melanie told Vox Political. “I was a carer for my son and, a few decades later, my father. I have worked most of my life too, raising three children.

“Only recently, while studying fine art at University I found my health deteriorating. I have a cocktail of conditions – Type 1 diabetes (diagnosed last year), Coeliac disease, asthma, rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis (currently being investigated), osteoarthritis, psoriasis and a brain tumour (thankfully benign and inactive). I have also lived with depression for almost all my adult life.

“I wanted my work to articulate how I feel about certain issues. In March this year I pitched up in Thurrock, a marginal seat which will be hotly fought-over in the run-up to the next general election. I sat in front of a blank canvas and asked the people of the town to tell me how they felt about welfare reform, the press and the 2015 General Election. I took a team of people to film and photograph the event and to explain to people what the work was about.

'People of Thurrock' in the making. Artist Melanie Cutler sits, silenced, while residents of Thurrock write their opinions of 'welfare reform' on the canvas.
‘People of Thurrock’ in the making. Artist Melanie Cutler sits, silenced, while residents of Thurrock write their opinions of ‘welfare reform’ on the canvas.

“Buoyed on by the reaction to ‘People of Thurrock’, I went on to something else I felt was an important issue; I put welfare reform under the microscope and conducted research around this issue. I was struck by the amount of people who, through no fault of their own, seek to end their own lives as they feel they have no other option. My own family has been touched by suicide and one of my own children is on ESA and awaiting an interview with ATOS.”

'Stewardship': Each plaque features the name of a 'welfare reform' victim and a description of how they died.
‘Stewardship’: Each plaque features the name of a ‘welfare reform’ victim and a description of how they died.
'Stewardship': This memorial is to Paul Reekie, the Scottish poet and writer who took his own life in 2010. Letters left on his table stated that his Housing Benefit and Incapacity Benefit had been stopped. The poet's death led to the creation of the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights.
‘Stewardship’: This memorial is to Paul Reekie, the Scottish poet and writer who took his own life in 2010. Letters left on his table stated that his Housing Benefit and Incapacity Benefit had been stopped.
The poet’s death led to the creation of the Black Triangle Anti-Defamation Campaign in Defence of Disability Rights.

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19 Thoughts to “Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths”

  1. Excellent article and well done Melanie… there are many ways to get the message across.

  2. This is amazing! Very powerful and I hope it will get a mention somewhere in the msm. Fantastic! A brilliant idea!

    Very sorry to hear of her health problems but I hope she will find something really helpful on the internet like Louise Hay for depression, Dr Lissa Rankin for self-healing prescription and wonderful healing meditation (Mind over Medicine) and GreenMedinfo for gentle and herbal help with everything including cancer but all backed up by science. You just won’t hear about it on the msm!

    And one person cannot change the world?!

    x

  3. Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    A beautiful pice on Stewardship a piece by an artist about the effect of welfare reforms.
    Brilliant!
    x

  4. […] Source: Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths […]

  5. ireallymeanthis

    This is truely inspiring and moving work.Well done to her.

  6. Andi Shaw

    Is there any way of seeing a photo of the whole memorial?

    1. I’m restricted to the photos that have been sent by the artist. Hopefully she’ll read this and respond.

  7. Sarah

    Excellent piece of work Melanie. Get rid of the fear and people can move mountains. What can “they” do to us that could be worse than being driven to contemplate suicide. We have to fight on and enable others to rid themselves of that dreaded fear. Love your spirit Mike, thank you for all you do. Xx

  8. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    This is a fascinating and inspiring piece about the work of the artist, Melanie Cutler, giving voice to the voiceless about the human costs of welfare reform and the suicides, which it has caused. The artist herself was a carer, and has a number of health conditions. Her son is also currently awaiting an Atos assessment.
    As for the quote with which the piece begins, it reminds me of Ruskin’s distinction between ‘wealth’ and ‘illth’. Wealth is money that has a beneficial effect and creates good. ‘Illth’ was the term he coined to describe negative, destructive wealth. We are definitely far into ‘illth’ under this government, who know of no other kind.

  9. So powerful – I would love to see more.
    Well done Melanie, long may it continue.

  10. Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    Such a powerful piece…

  11. Reblogged this on stewilko's Blog and commented:
    Amazing work

  12. […] Art attack on Coalition policies that drive people to their deaths – @MidWalesMike […]

  13. Can yoou or would you consider a memorial to which new names can be added? I think that although there are online ones families would travel a very long way for the feeling that they can commemorate a lost loved one. Our nephew ( an art student) died as a result of DWP incompetence and re-testing .

    1. I’ll pass the message on to the artist. The problem with that is that you’d need a permanent place for it – possibly quite a large one.

      1. Melanie Cutler replies: “One thing that strikes me is the touching stories I hear from people who are touched when they see this work. I think a memorial whilst initially a good idea it might have problems such as acquiring land for it, materials etc. It would need to be made of stone to survive the rigors of the weather. If enough people were to wish it then its a possibility. Crowd funding might work then go to the arts council – it would cost a great deal of money. There was a lot of controversy over Lady Di’s memorial. If you could pass on my deepest sympathy to this lady. I will look into the materials side of things.”

  14. MIke FB did not deliver this in time..I am just getting this. how can we make sure her work is seen. are there more pics of exhibition.IF you find links just slap them on the timeline bro..Wado(Thanks in Cherokee0

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