Art and Sacred Places


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Jimmy Symonds - One in a Million

Jimmy Symonds addressed the subject of contemporary, spontaneously created road-side shrines which mark where road deaths have occurrred. He worked with RoadPeace, the national organisation which works with families of victims of road accidents.

Comments from participants: "On a personal level it was a new learning curve for me and a very ineresting one." "I found their individual interpretations very interesting." "The artist was very sensitive and engaging."

Project: From the beginning Symonds knew that his book would be central to a RoadPeace national service of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims. He also worked closely with a bereaved mother of Roman Catholic upbringing. It was therefore but a short leap to make the structure of his book follow the 'chapter' headings of a requiem mass. Symonds's beautifully made book is a visual dictionary, using different digital media; a dictionary of the anguish, the rituals and the memorials associated with the scourge of our times - road deaths.

Symonds recalls an actual dialogue he had whilst having his hair cut before a talk he gave at the RoadPeace Annual General Meeting.

Scene: In an east Oxford hairdressers, a Wednesday morning, summer 2006, where the artist has just been explaining his Art and Sacred Places' commission. Bright sunshine pouring through windows onto magazines.
Sound Effects: The snip of scissors through hair
Hairdresser: Actually, Sir, it's a strange thing. You see my dear father was killed in a traffic accident in 1962.
Artist: How awful. I am so sorry.
Hairdresser: St Peter's Day 1962. He died on St Peter's Day.
Artist: When is St Peter's Day?
Hairdresser: 29th June. The strange thing about that terrible day was when he was killed my brothers and I were choirboys and we were singing at St Peter's Church. I often think about that.
Artist: What a dreadful coincidence.
Hairdresser: Well, Sir, with the scale of road deaths, I suppose coincidence doesn't really come into it, does it?
Snip, snip

Symonds's artwork was one of six artists' books produced for the Art and Sacred Places Six Sacred Sites project in collaboration with 'aspex' gallery, Portsmouth, 'The Winchester Gallery' and 'Hampshire Sculpture Trust'.

Six Sacred Sites exhibitions and events included:

23rd September to 16th October, 2006 - Basingstoke Hindu Society, Carnival Hall
28th October to 19th November, 2006 - Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral
19th November, 2006 - RoadPeace Service for World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims
8th January, 2007 - South Wonston Primary School
13th January to 17th February, 2007 - Rope Store Gallery, Quay Arts, Newport, Isle of Wight - Meeting Place of the Newport Quaker group
23rd February to 18th March, 2007 - Aspex Gallery, Vulcan Building, Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth
6th July to 2nd August, 2007 - The Winchester Gallery
13th July 2007 - Artists' Book Symposium with UWE and Winchester School of Art

Project funders and supporters: Arts Council England SE, Hampshire County Council, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, Portsmouth City Council, Winchester City Council, aspex gallery, University of Southampton, RoadPeace

RoadPeace Helpline: 0845 4500 355 - 7 days a week - 9am to 9 pm

Art and Sacred Places - MMXVI-MMXVII