Art is not for everybody. Take my Dad for example, I recently took him to the Tate and he stood perplexed in front of a blank canvas with red stripes across it. With a confused look on his face he asked me: ‘what is it meant to represent? I don’t get it!’. I feel this statement sums up one of the types of relationships that people have with art. Most people do not necessarily understand it but I think that is the beauty – you do not have to understand art to appreciate it, or for the art to reach out and speak to you. I have started my article in this way as I feel the word ‘understanding’ is very important in the context of the exhibition that I am about to introduce. Opening the 22nd– 25thof June in London, ‘The Sunlight Project’ is a unique, five-day exhibition which aims to celebrate survivors of sexual assault. I feel I am not alone in stating that I will never be able to, or even begin to be able to, understand how it must feel to be a victim and survivor of sexual assault. But I admire the purpose behind such an exhibition which I can only imagine can act as a form of therapy for the eight contributing artists, five of whom are survivors themselves. The vision behind this exhibition is to create an empowering rather than a victimising space through mediums such as painting, poetry, film and music.
Previously, the discourse around sexual assault has been generated by journalists and celebrities who use a global platform to spread awareness and spark communication and support. However, three further aims of The Sunlight Project being to Inspire, Educate, and Strengthen, highlight the fact the exhibition endeavours to give survivors the chance to speak their own truth, tell their own story of recovery, and display the very art that has allowed such a recovery. The press for the exhibition states that The Sunlight Project hopes to ‘comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable’. This quote embodies the efforts of the exhibition to help members of the public to gauge an insight into what it might be like to be sexually assaulted, and then to have to live with it for the rest of their lives. Although those who have never experienced sexual assault personally will never be able to truly understand the story of each survivor, I feel I speak on behalf of everybody again, when I say that it is our duty to try to understand and if we cannot do this, then the least we can do is to listen. Through the medium of art, I feel we can listen to each survivors’ story to show our support and stand united with such victims by visiting this exhibition.
I would like to end this article with a quote from the exhibition’s website concerning Lucy Hall- the founder and curator of the exhibition who was a victim of rape last year. The quote is as follows: “Tired of the victimisation and the basic, uncritical language surrounding sexual assault, she decided it was time to open up a new dialogue.” Are you ready to listen to such a dialogue? For more information, visit: https://www.thesunlightproject.net
Address: Basement flat, 72 Haverstock Hill, London, NW3 2BE
Thursday 21st June – Monday 25th June
OPENING NIGHT: Thursday 21st June, 6pm