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Birth-day – a participatory drawing project by Sam Winston to commemorate births and deaths as they happen

Birth-day by Sam Winston is co-presented by Antlers Gallery and Mayfest Bristol as part of Bristol 2015 Lab.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Sam Winston portrait
This exciting participatory drawing and storytelling project features artwork made up of large-scale drawings that commemorate the births and deaths that are happening across the world everyday. Birth-day is the brain child of artist Sam Winston, and is co-presented by Antlers Gallery and Mayfest for the Bristol 2015 Lab.

‘By the time you’ve read this sentence three people have been born into the world.
By the time you’ve read this sentence two will have passed away.
By the time you’ve lived through this half-day there will be 183,600 more children on the planet.
And in the same twelve hours 77,760 people will have passed away.’

Members of the public will collaborate by drawing circles alongside the artist to remember people they know then register their names in writing on a separate board, building into large collective drawings. Sam Winston will be on hand to talk to people and guide them in their contribution to the project. Visitors can just turn up to contribute and no prior artistic ability is necessary. I asked the artist to tell me more about this and other upcoming projects…

Sam Winston Antlers
Birth-day will take place in the Bristol 2015 Lab over the weekend of Friday 15 May – Sunday 17 May. For this project I am offering people the opportunity to collaborate with me in drawing a circle to register a birth or death to celebrate one of the 1/4 million lives that come and go everyday. When we hear such information we are usually awed by the scale at which it’s happening – yet somehow that very information soon becomes another piece of trivia.

In this work I am taking statistics close to our hearts – those covering birth and death rates, and literally trying to record each one with a drawn circle to portray 12 hours of life on our planet. I hope the effect is a transformation of seemingly incomprehensible statistics into a very real sea of 261,360 brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers; this is an invitation for people to partake in that.

My next project is actually on a completely different topic: it’s a collaboration between myself and the childrens book author Oliver Jeffers which we are just finishing a new childrens book called Child of Books – this will be out later next year. I’m also part of an exhibition at the Jewish Museum about journeys this May in London.

All photography by Andy Sewell.


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