Update on Community Art Project #LittleLoveLetters
As many of you know I have been working very hard on a new installation this month.
I’m pleased to say I managed to complete it in time for the deadline, although 3 weeks from start to finish was definitely a tight squeeze!
Thanks so much to everyone who participated by contributing a #littleloveletter to your child, and sharing it with me for inclusion in my installation, and to those who showed interest in my project. Together we have created a powerful and thought provoking artwork about the consequences of the current softening of Australia’s gun laws.
'My Love is Bulletproof' by Nikky Agnello
Plastic and Paper construction. 1m wide x 1m deep x 2.8m high
A child size bulletproof vest is frozen in time, creating a force field of love, which deflects black shrapnel around it. It is labelled with a child’s name and Small toys are visible in the utility pockets. The vest is created from hundreds of handwritten love notes from local mothers to their children.
This artwork seeks to encourage dialogue about the current eroding of Australia’s gun laws and where this may lead us. It centres on a parents love for their child, and their desire to keep them safe. To raise awareness of the dangerous power play that is going on between the Australian government and the pro gun lobbyists.
What struck me most about this project is how similar the response in our community was in their approach to the project. There was such a strong outpouring of love from mothers to their kids and it struck me that all this love is being shared inside four walls but if we look at each family on each street we are so similar in our love for our kids. Why do we find it hard to let this love spill out though our doors and windows into the street and include each other as a community? We all want what is best for our children. We all want them to succeed in life, we all want a safe environment for them. We must as a community unite because that is where our power lies. When we are one people and with one voice we can be heard.
Thanks so much Marianna Martheze from Bobbins n Bliss for her wonderful help with my pattern making for the bulletproof vest and for the help in sewing the hard to reach places! I am truly in awe of your skills! Check out her urban fashion on facebook at bobbinsnbliss
For me the role of the artist is to encourage society to look at problems from a different perspective and to act with awareness in order to inspire change in our selves and in society. When I first began talking to people about this issue I was met with cyniscm and disbelief. “But Australia has great gun laws”. “As if they would be changed!” “But I haven’t read anything about it in the newspaper. If they were changing wouldn’t it be in the news?” Sadly only the Guardian seemed to offer any sort of continuing coverage of this story and this is where I heard it first.
The concerns I have over current proposals in progress are:
1. Outdated Gun codes:
The chairwoman of Gun Control Australia, Samantha Lee states “Legislation has not kept pace with technology.” Twenty years ago Australia’s gun laws were bulletproof. However gun technology has now outstripped these codes so that gun importers are able to introduce rapid fire weapons the likes of which did not exist in 1996 as recreational and civilian weapons in Australia. Lee states, “The basis of the national firearms agreement is that rapid-shot firearms should not be available for civilian usage because of the risk to the community,”however EG: Verney-Carron's fast lever action rifle which has been available for purchase in Australia as a category B firearm since 2017.
2. Tasmanian government plans decreasing mental health checks for gun licenses:
from every 5 years to every 10 years. Mental health is a highly changeable state. Certainly a lot can change in one year, let alone 10 years. The policy had only been provided to a select group of firearm owners within Tasmania in early February and has been hidden from the wider public. I don’t believe that the home of Australia’s worst gun massacre would be so nonchalant about these changes if they knew about them.
3. Australia’s largest small arms importer to create firearms advisory council:
The home affairs minister Peter Dutton is considering establishing a committee to allow gun importers to review proposed changes to firearm regulations for “appropriateness and intent”. This seems to me to be a blatant conflict of interests. Isn’t the arms dealers’ main aim to increase his profits? But what will that cost us?
I often wonder how America’s national Rifle association became so powerful against the wishes of the people for safety and I can only guess that it happened slowly. Small changes, eroding gun control over years, an extra hefty donation here and another lenient friend there. I care nothing for politics; all I want is for Australians to be aware that these things are happening all around them. Small seemingly insignificant things that could have massive consequences.
The power of the NRA is so great that the people seem powerless to make a change and every day those mothers kiss their kids goodbye to send them to school without knowing if they will ever see them alive again. That is not the way I want to live, how about you?
I have submitted this artwork to The Incinerator Gallery and hope to have it included in their finalists exhibition but will only know by 31 July.
Please wish me luck and I will keep you up to date.
Nikky Agnello is an award winning art director, graphic designer and artist with over 15 years experience working internationally. As a conceptual visual artist her work centers around the interconnected relationship between human rights and environment.