Thursday, March 15, 2018

This is the article in The Bray People this week!

This is the only saucy painting I've done but I thought I'd see if it draws more of a crowd tomorrow!

Frances Micklem is a Kilkenny artist. Her exhibition opens in The Kitchen Café in Bray on Friday 16th March.

The work portrays intense and funny human scenarios taking place in a natural context. In the background there are always animals watching on or minding their own business. Frances doesn’t believe that the world is here just for human endeavor or that animals, birds, fish and landscapes are here merely to facilitate us.

“I chose Bray for my latest exhibition as there are still several billboards dedicated to the ‘Go Vegan World’ campaign, which is so close to my heart. I consider myself a radical artist as I paint to raise awareness of the struggle of minorities. Animals aren’t really a ‘minority’ as there are thousands and millions of them and they don’t really ‘struggle’ either as we have them so bound and silenced.”

Most people never see a factory or an intensive farm or a laboratory. It all happens out in the countryside behind closed doors. People don’t want to hear about suffering and cruelty either, let alone see images. So, Frances was faced with the question of how to bring these animals to life for people, so that the routine estimated 56 billion slaughtered every year regains some meaning as a terrible situation that really must stop. She wants people to question all the industries that use animals; from the breeding of cows purely for their milk to the millions used in laboratories to test pharmaceutical industry and household products.

She asks, did we drink too much one night and all agree and sign something that read:
Yes, we want our food drenched in chemicals.
Yes, we agree that animals can be butchered after a few months as long as the meat is cheap? 

The pressure to make art appealing and unchallenging has meant that animals are mainly depicted in their innocence; the adorable puppy, the noble and gleaming horse and maybe an occasional cow and sheep sharing a peaceful yard in a small-holding. But none of that is true anymore. The shelters are overflowing with unwanted dogs, cats and horses. Farm animals cannot expect their five freedoms. Frances asked herself how she was going to awaken people’s empathy when so many didn’t want to see any contradiction between caring for one animal and eating another.

She is an artist who is always on her message; wanting people to consider animals in their every purchase. If there isn’t a leaping rabbit on it, then it means the products have been tested on animals. If it has animal ingredients in it, she says leave it behind. Make it unpopular and the food industry will have to come up with something else.

The question this work raises is: Who said that human life is more important, sensible or significant than any other life? On what authority do we have that belief? Frances feels that she has at least anecdotal evidence to the contrary: The pigs, the pony, the pheasants, the wagtails, the bees, the dogs, the cats and the hedgehogs all have equal say as to what goes on at Harmony Hall, her healing centre in Kilkenny. She doesn’t mention the fox, badger or deer in case someone reading this feels a cull coming on. Not on her watch!

So, if you’re interested in the colour, love and wellbeing sides of life, check out the exhibition at the new Kitchen Café venue in Bray. As an energy healer, Frances was always determined not to torture people with paintings of the depths of a troubled psyche, saying ‘It is important to be mindful of what you put out as well as what you let in!’ Her work is there to share the good energy and peace that she’s found and help people remember what life is all about.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, we applied to the Dept. of Agriculture for the number of animals murdered in Irish slaughterhouses in 2017. Due to what they deem is "commercially sensitive" information, they would not give us the number of deer or goats killed.

Here is the information they did give us:

Bovine (cows) – 1,747,053
Ovine (sheep) – 2,948,493
Porcine (pigs) – 3,291,322
Poultry – 95,511,268
Equine – 7,748

TOTAL MURDERED: 103,505,884.

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