Westbury People’s Gallery Manifesto

Artwork by Melissa Lintern and Malcolm Atkins at the Westbury People’s Gallery - Source: Author
Artwork by Melissa Lintern and Malcolm Atkins at the Westbury People’s Gallery – Source: Author

The Westbury People’s Gallery (WPG) is an independent arts collective, entirely self-supported through communal effort, which has been holding a number of outdoor cultural events since 2020. WPG is independent of both state and corporate funding.

We hold events and exhibitions in our unique Garden Gallery, which is located in Cowley, Oxford, UK. All events and exhibitions are free for the public to attend, and the garden gallery may be viewed outside the normal viewing times by appointment. Currently, the gallery is closed for winter, but we hope to have it up and running again later in spring.

We aim to open up creative practice in and around the local community and encourage an engagement with all the arts by all who are interested. We operate as an artists’ collective across all genres, where work and ideas are shared for mutual learning and support. Community work will be displayed alongside the work of collective members and anything submitted to us will be considered for display.

Because WPG is community based, we needed to set out clearly to the community why we exist and what we aim for. This Manifesto does just that.

The Manifesto

1. To be human is to be creative
The WPG recognises the need for humans to fulfil themselves creatively in the material, social and cultural spheres. Both individually and collectively, our creativity makes us who we are. We believe this existential need to be creative makes creativity a universal right for all humans.

2. Creativity needs a community
The WPG believes our creativity depends on collective effort and involvement of the community for both its meaning and its power to make positive changes in the world.

3. Creativity needs a world
The WPG believes we must be one with our environment. We are living organisms — how we shape and understand the world must be in sympathy with how the world functions as a living organism. We seek to live in harmony with other beings, human and otherwise, along with looking for a way to heal the rift between man and nature when the two should be indistinguishable. Above all, the WPG opposes the ongoing environmental destruction that the interests of the capital-owning class are bringing about.

4. Creativity needs freedom
The WPG opposes all hierarchies, institutions and systems that hamper human creativity. Creativity is for all, not just the preserve of a particular class, caste or profession. Access to the means and outlets for self-expression is a right for all. The role of the arts is to express truth — including speaking truth to power. The WPG seeks no funding from the State nor any corporate sponsor to ensure we never are compromised in what we can say.

5. Creativity needs inclusivity
The WPG believes everyone has a right to express their creativity; we encourage everyone to share their work with us. We are foremost a community gallery — the professional artists belonging to our collective are keen to share the space with all. Much of our gallery’s artwork is devoted to environmental awareness, justice, and speaking truth to power. But we welcome any expression providing it does not prejudice any group or culture.

6. Creativity needs a home
The WPG maintains a gallery space in a front garden in a suburban street between Rose Hill Estate and Cowley Centre. Our gallery is accessible to all, and everyone is encouraged to visit and contribute — it is not an exclusive gallery where only an elite clientele is welcome. We also maintain a website for recording our work and promoting our aims and ideals. Our web presence also allows artists from all over the world to contribute to our online gallery.

The idea of this Manifesto came from Nini Sakhri and it was put together by Julian Dourado with the help of Nini and Malcolm.

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