Gillian Wearing: Craig O’ Keefe


Gillian Wearing and Craig O’ Keefe with the sculpture


Gillian Wearing with her sculpture Craig O’ Keefe

Work / Art

Gillian Wearing: The Crisis Commission

This week saw the opening of The Crisis Commission at Somerset House, with a spectacular roster of artists including Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, Sir Anthony Caro and Jonathan Yeo coming together to raise funds and awareness in the ongoing fight against homelessness. We spoke to one one of the stellar names taking part, Gillian Wearing, about the project and what she is exhibiting…

What work have you chosen to create/submit for this show and why?

It’s a small sculpture/monument of an ex-soldier called Craig who turned to drink when trying to adjust back to civilian life, this eventually led to him becoming homeless. He states on the plaque below the bronze statue of him that he thought his life was over and he was finished.

I think anyone can relate to that, when there becomes a moment in their lives when they become unstuck, and of course when you lose all your money and become homeless you are incredibly vulnerable.  But the work is also about hope as Craig turned his life around with the aid charity in this case Veteran’s Aid, and now he is a volunteer tutor at Crisis.

At the end of the plaque he says that “it is important to give more than you receive” for which he is a testament to that fact.

Why was this a cause you were keen to support? Do you feel that artists have a duty to engage with socio-politcial concerns?

In moments of economic strife more people are losing their jobs and could find themselves homeless. I imagine for homeless charities like Crisis it also becomes harder to raise money in a climate like this, so I really hope that works raise a good sum of money for this vital cause.
I think we all have a duty regardless of our jobs or backgrounds.  From my experience artists tend to be generous when it comes to supporting charities or causes.

Some of the YBAs have re-invented themselves over recent years and become national treasures – what’s your feelings about this?

That’s great, why not? Art has had a bad name for so long in this country.

The show runs until April 22.