Tinker tailor soldier artist
Yesterday’s post mentioned embedding artists in public bodies to stimulate cultural responses to climate change. The idea lodged in my mind, mixing with John le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the classic tale of moles, sleepers and agents I’m rereading … What if climate-aware artists were smuggled into all central and local government, working in the shadows for a safer, fairer, better-connected ecology, economy and society? What art might moles make within policies, positions and forecasts? On the texts’ margins? Hijacking the headings, footnotes and charts? How long would it take for creative subversion to move beyond satire? A diverting daydream …
Then I realised, of course, these agents are in place: sleepers embedded deep, waiting for the signal to create space for change. Of 5.5 million people in the public sector, how many write, paint, draw, stitch, sculpt or sing in their home lives? How much of the artistic energy feeding our communities away from the office trickles back into watercooler conversations, unminuted edges of meetings, doodles in notes? How large is the potential for public servants to speak their ideas, hopes and fears into the record, shifting the public agenda?
How to wake the sleepers?