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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Hero of the Week

Dame Vivienne Westwood, Illustration by Kerry Lemon

Written by Lucy Jones

http://www.kerrylemon.co.uk/Vivienne%20Westwood.jpg

This week’s environmental hero award goes to Dame Vivienne Westwood. Not only has she created unashamedly fabulous clothes for the last four decades, she also wears her heart on her sleeve. Quite literally, in the form of a badge with the ubiquitous image of a rebel in a beret. But this is not Che Guevara, but Rembrandt who, according to Viv, was as much a freedom fighter as the Argentine revolutionary.
She explained this at the Art, Activism and the Legacy of Chico Mendes talk at the RSA a couple of nights ago. We were there to find out how art can be used to promote environmental causes. Unfortunately we left none the wiser, other than to have our suspicions confirmed that Dame Viv is slightly bonkers but an extraordinary creative mind (even if she did refer to the president of Guatemala as the ‘boss of the jungle’).
Amongst mutterings on plumbers and the evils of watching too much TV were moments of clarity; ‘Activists and art lovers are the same thing, through active pursuit of art and resistance to propaganda, they stop becoming consumers and start becoming thinkers.’
She seemed to address the point of the discussion more than any of the other panellists who struggled to reach a conclusion as to how the art world can break through the cloud of elitism that surrounds it and communicate social issues, such as environmentalism, to the average Tom, Dick and Harry.
The most striking thing about Viv (apart from the neon hair) was her honest and heartfelt concern for the state of the world. At times this came across as cringingly naïve; ‘we need to get Gordon Brown to pool all the money and buy the jungle.’ But she’s a wise woman who has campaigned for social causes for several years with the same unashamed eccentricity as her clothes. Read how Pinocchio finds art (among other tales) in her manifesto.

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