The Smallest Chair

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(Photos: Top Withens, Yorkshire, Nov 2014)

I recently visited the Al Wei Wei exhibition in the chapel at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.  As suggested by the artist, I read one of his father’s poems. It was a poem about his wet nurse; her life and his remembering.  Afterwards, I wandered around the Chinese chairs set out in the chapel, as I hoped that one of them would “pull” me towards it.  It was the smallest chair. After a while, Sue, my friend, came to sit in the chair next to the small chair.

A timeline of Chinese history and Wei Wei’s family is given on the wall of the chapel.  It led me to reflect on my recent reading of Orwell’s “1984”.  A large part of the book is about Winston’s job of re-writing history.  I suppose the fact that the state give pupils the choice to drop history, in the UK,  at the age of 14 could be seen as a sign of the state not trying to control.  I dropped it in the 1970’s and now in the 2000’s my daughter has been given the choice of dropping it a year earlier than me. Winston would be out of a job because we are ignorant already.  There’s no history to re-write.

However, it is true that If we wish to discover any history there is nothing stopping us. We can always take a book off the shelves fully confident that what we are reading is “true”.  Self-education is always possible. Also, history might be more appealing to pupils now because of the internet and other media. Perhaps young people are less inclined to “drop it”.  Also, as higher education becomes more accessible, no doubt our graduates will educate their own children.

Looking at it from these angles, we could jump to the conclusion that 1984 hasn’t happened.  We are free. Free to be ignorant if we wish. Yet, I feel that some aspects of 1984 will always be with the human race.  Such aspects as power, betrayal and the potential in every human heart to love or to hate. I recently heard the musician Annie Lennox, comment on radio that “anyone” can write a blog these days.  However, this is not the case, as Wei Wei knows, in some countries.  And, for some, a blog is the only option because other media is controlled by the state.

Other inspiration this month: No 10 Art Gallery, Rochdale are hosting an exhibition of paintings on small canvasses.  Any proceeds raised will be donated to Petrus the charity for the homeless in Rochdale.  All paintings were contributed by friends of the gallery.  For more information google Petrus or No 10 Art Gallery.

Greetings of the Season to my readers.  My next blog will be in 2015.