A rebel with a cause: From Medecins Sans Frontières to a cause closer to home

A rebel with a cause: From Medecins Sans Frontières to a cause closer to home

This is a strapline used on Medecins Sans Frontières t-shirts for fundraising in the UK. During my numerous missions with MSF in the field, we also had to wear heavily branded MSF t-shirts or bibs over our clothing while we worked as nurses, surgeons or lowly logisticians... Driving up to checkpoints, our Land Cruisers were plastered with our MSF and ‘no arms’ logos; on our hospital roofs in Syria, there were logos 10 metres across to discourage Russian bombers for dropping their payload on patients.

In refugee camps and war zones with belligerent dictators and unstable military groups, heavy humanitarian branding doesn’t always work, but like the white flag, it made it clear who we were and called for protection under the terms of the Geneva Convention rules of war. 

Coming home, my understanding of a rebel with a cause in a capitalist society is someone who doesn't compulsively buy stuff they don’t need with money they don’t have. Someone who rejects marketing, someone who doesn't move with the flock. 

A rebel is someone not easily distracted. In an industrial, or post-modern society, it is a person who routinely reflects on the world around them. This has always been somehow incendiary. Socrates urged people in ancient Greece to live 'a life examined', and we know what happened to him… Now, our lives are mediated through technology. We Browse. Watch. Repeat. - as much as we - Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. 

So, if you are a rebel at heart; someone who is curious, with an open, independent mind; someone who is not afraid of staring into the abyss and reflecting; someone who is values-led; someone who is sick of marketing; someone with a sense of humour... 

...Then work with me. Let's fight mediocrity and banality where we find it, and let’s create thought-provoking art spaces. Let’s fight it in the galleries, homes, offices, coffee shops and bars. Hell! - Let’s make t-shirts that refuse to accept commercial brands and slogans taking over our beautiful chests for advertising boards turning us into their marketing sheep to boost their profits… 

You get the idea; a heady mix of lofty ambitions and soaring rhetoric, right? Let’s create a tribe that celebrates being present and positive; uses humour to satirise the horrors of the third modernity, but also helps to bring some clarity and unity in a confusing, fractured world. 

I create art that I want people to see and enjoy. If you work with me, we can create art spaces where you are that encourage positivity, but also free-independent thinking that can reach beyond the narrow strictures of our capitalist religion. Art that you might commission that helps people to think differently each day. 

We could change behaviour. I don’t know, bring authenticity to brand marketing; add meaning to exhibition spaces ; highlight the value of independent coffee shops, bars and breweries; hang thought-provoking images in hotel lobbies that – at least for a moment – can make someone look up from their devices. 

Imagine that. 

[Insert joke here] 

Check our my new ‘Work With Me’ page on artthatmakesyouthink.com/ You will find a carousel called ‘Art Spaces’, which gives you a flavour of what you could commission and how we could develop something interesting together. The last slide is titled ‘Human Spaces’. We may not all have a mission as bold and vital as Medecins Sans Frontières; i.e. ‘to deliver medical care where it is needed most’, but we can at least reclaim our chest spaces with statements that mean something to us, not faceless corporations. We can reclaim our public spaces from private profits with beauty and truth, rather than banality and mediocrity. 

Like me, you can also donate to MSF every month, to help Ukrainians in Ukraine, Congolese in Congo and to put yourself on the right side of history. 

Destiny is all.



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