Nomads, Simon Adam Yorke
The Royal Chapel, Tower of London
Simon Adam Yorke, a local artist featured on these pages not too long a go for an extraordinary exhibition at the Quaker Meeting House on School Lane, has moved on up and will be exhibiting at the Tower of London during Lent (1st March – 13th April 2017).
His painting series, Nomads, focuses on homeless subjects and has been touring various spaces for years. Their latest exhibition falls in Lent by no accident:
“Lent is a time to give something up, and is the perfect time to reflect on those who have given up everything, escaping from war, famine and persecution. Through these portraits, we remember the reality of life for the homeless, refugees and victims of our society during these unpredictable times.” – Simon Adam Yorke
As I’ve reflected before, the artist uses religion as a vehicle to deliver a message about humanity. As a Buddhist, the Church may not reflect his beliefs but instead provides a calm space to sit and reflect on these captivating portraits in the centre of one of the busiest cities in the world.
The exhibition is open now, and if you happen to find yourself in London, take yourself out of your day and find time to pause with these brief painted thoughts on life.
In the artist’s words:
This Lent period leads to the crucifixion of Christ who was also the victim of the political and religious struggle 2000 years ago. Lent is the forty-day period preceding Easter, which is devoted to fasting, abstinence, and penitence in commemoration of Christ’s fasting in the wilderness. Lent is a time to give something up, and is the perfect time to reflect on those who have given up everything, escaping from war, famine and persecution. Through these portraits, we remember the reality of life for the homeless, refugees and victims of our society during these unpredictable times. The female is the center of the family, they not only bring life into this world, but nurture it. The matriarch is the strength of each family and should be revered. But, these women are escaping persecution, violence and abuse for themselves and their children. In an art world were the artist’s job is to challenge the status quo and be avant-garde, I wanted to put an alternative perspective to an age-old tradition which is reserved for the wealthy who commission portraits of people they have an emotional bond towards. I wanted to paint people who are marginalised in society are classed as undesirable, who live on the outskirts of the community.
Buddhists talk about equanimity, that we are all equal. Equal in the sense that we all want to be happy. That is the common goal of all humanity. Please use these paintings as a meditation of those less fortunate. Those less fortunate who have been courageous enough to renounce all material possessions and travel thousands of miles in the hope of safety, and happiness for themselves and their families. These are the fortunate ones, as many lose their lives during their journey to freedom.
Lent is a time to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves. Jesus said love thy fellow man. This is a common theme in all religions, be it Christianity, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. Life is not just for living, but for loving. Help those less fortunate, give what you don’t need. Remember, the most important gift of all is love. Reflect on the four immeasurables and try to include them in your life:
- Think how wonderful it would be if others found happiness and freedom from suffering (this is your aspiration).
- Then make a fervent wish that others be happy and do not suffer, just as much as you wish to have happiness and be free from suffering yourself (this is your intention).
- Then make a deep commitment that you yourself will take responsibility for their welfare (this is your commitment).
- Finally, with a heartfelt prayer, invoke the blessing and the help from God, Allah, or Buddha that you all find happiness. Abide in equanimity, free from attachment and anger that holds some close and others distant.