Artirs Jay Gearing’s words writes movingly about this work:
I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Christmas. I guess that mostly stems from my childhood experiences of it, like most things. It was a confusing time with various messages being conveyed. My school and other organisations that looked after my well-being and nurtured me were teaching me about this bloke called Jesus who seemed super nice and went around telling people how to be good citizens, shaking up the established order and generally being an all round good egg. My television and my peers had different ideas. For a month and a half my telly would parade all the wonders of capitalism in front of me, non-stop, a relentless bashing of the senses. Toy after toy, advert after advert, a new more exciting thing for me to unrealistically covert. My family couldn’t afford these things but my telly didn’t seem to care about that, it just wanted to show off all its glittery wares in my face.
There was another message that television wanted to portray, that was the blissfully happy family gathering around the fire at Christmas, all their faces red with cheer, too much food and booze and with eyes filled with so much love it actually seemed like the varnished eyes of a puppy dog staring back at you, although the puppy was dead. This is what the real world Christmas wanted from me, to be consumed with the desire of want for everything, to want my family to be like those “normal” ones on telly, whilst boring old preachy school was telling me about the birth of Christ without really telling me anything about the guy, apart from the fact that he was a miracle sent from God.
None of this faced up to my reality as a child. In reality I was from a large family who couldn’t afford to lavish us with gifts. In reality booze was used by the adults to get through the day with the glazed look of a moron rather than the varnished gaze of a puppy dog. In reality we weren’t a religious family and I knew very little about Christianity apart from the odd story of his birth, death and resurrection. Why has every year built up to this? Every year I was subjected to advertising promoting a better lifestyle through consumerism in the name of profit not good-will. Every year I’m sold a belief that all other families in the world are perfect, love each other implicitly and have the most amazing Christmas ever. Every year I watch the nativity play wondering what the hell it all means. Sure I know the story but what’s the significance of it? Where’s the message?
It seems to me that my school was teaching me about Jesus like the story of Christmas was just some knowledge to memorise for the curriculum, like being able to recite my times-tables without understanding the theory behind the mathematics. At the same time the rest of society was frantically obeying the almighty television, scurrying around consuming as much as they could without really having a thought as to why. It seemed to me back then that most people were lying to me, they had no genuine belief system in God. They felt more strongly about goods in reality and are fooled into thinking they are a spiritually and mentally fulfilling things to attain. They really aren’t.
So, I created this piece of art, Jesus as a Transformer. It encapsulates my confusion as a child about the message of Christmas. It’s also a cynical look and what the Church could do to make the story of Jesus more appealing to children now that consumerism reigns supreme, if the Church were to be that cynical.
I’m not a religious man but I wish children were subjected to more of the good-will and compassionate message of Christianity rather than just a retelling of a story, or worse, that Christmas is about getting new toys. Someone very dear to me pointed out recently that whilst Christmas can appear to be all kinds of wrong it’s important to have a celebration in mid-winter, if only to keep spirits up. I like that idea. I also like the idea that that time can be used to celebrate love, humanity and be thankful for all we have. I hope that sentiment returns to Christmas for the populous soon.
To find out more about Jay then please go to: http://www.paperrhino.co.uk/