John is a native of Belfast. His work is deeply influenced by his experiences of growing up in an acutely divided community. Born in 1962, his first experience of that division was a pivotal moment in the development of his identity and commitment to social justice.
He recalls an incident when aged 8 he and his elder brother were confronted by a group of older boys who asked them to recite the alphabet. When they passed the letter ‘H’ both John and his brother were punched and kicked.
Returning home with bloody nose – John struggled to understand why he had been beaten. Years later while making an artwork in his local youth club entitled ‘H’ – he came to understand the power of language and the significance of the symbol as a means of defining difference. He also recognised the power of art as a means of learning that breaches the space between private and public, giving voice to those who would otherwise endure silence.
John is the head of art education and the co -director of the research centre for Arts and Learning at Goldsmiths University of London. He believes that ‘art can change the world, It certainly changed his….