Thomas A. Clark
peace in three colours
26 April – 15 May 2022
For this exhibition poet Thomas A. Clark has undertaken a series of posters and prints with the word PAX in white on a background of blue, green and orange. Pax means peace in Latin and is a word commonly associated with the time after Easter as well as in year-round church services, where the final encouragement to the congregation is to “go in peace.” Represented against different colours and orientations, this artwork is intended to suggest peace in all its forms.
Large posters have been placed in the notice boards along Piccadilly, with further prints to be found inside the church, including smaller cards inside the church for visitors to take away. In exhibiting the artworks along Piccadilly in this way, the intention is to change the function of the poster frames from having an information function to having a declarative one, like a contemporary echo of the outdoor pulpit as can be seen on the side of the church – directly addressing passers-by. For a walker passing down Piccadilly, the repeated word PAX might also function like a prayer or a blessing – pax, pax, pax, pax…
In this time where war and subjugation are to be found across the world not least in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Ukraine and Yemen, the work is an assertion of peace and its value today. The artwork recalls the notion of perpetual peace outlined by philosopher Immanuel Kant (later taken up by Jeremy Bentham and others), whereby citizens in a democracy are less likely to support their government in a war because this would inflict misery onto themselves as well. For Clark: “Rather than looking forward to a future possibility, these posters are more assertive – they announce peace, they proclaim it as a present state.”
Church is a place where people come to find their own peace and in addition to this more declarative, public-facing posters, the exhibition also offers a series of small cards (about the size of a business card), that visitors to the church are free to take away with them as their own reminder of peace.
Thomas A Clark (b. Greenock, Scotland 1944) is a poet based in Fife, Scotland. In 1973, with the artist Laurie Clark, he started Moschatel Press, named after a flowering herb. At first a vehicle for small publications by Ian Hamilton Finlay, Cid Corman, Jonathan Williams, Simon Cutts and others, it soon developed into a means of formal investigation within his own poetry, treating the book and other innovative objects as imaginative space, the page as a framing device or as quiet around an image or a phrase, the leafing through as revelation or delay. Thomas and Laurie Clark also run the minimal and conceptual project space Cairn Gallery based in Pittenweem, Fife, offering an ongoing series of interventions and exhibitions.