I was down at City Hall today seeing to one of the economic mundanities of life, taxing the car when my attention was diverted by the ‘Pitch for Shane Exhibition ‘ presently showing in the Istabraq Hall. Shane Geoghegan was coldly gunned down in a case of mistaken identity in a gang related shooting in November 2008. The public outcry of revulsion at the time prompted some people to get together to remember and celebrate Shane’s life and the idea or the ‘Pitch for Shane’ was born.
A group of volunteers have spent the last several months down at the City Market encouraging people to make tiny clay figures to field a team for Shane’s rugby pitch. The notional pitch now at the gallery eventually fielded 20,000 clay figurines each one an expression of individual disdain for the horrific manner of Shane’s killing and a pledge that this young mans life will not be forgotten.
The effect of seeing the figures arrayed on the floor of the gallery is really quite breathtaking, looking like an immense army prepared for battle. This project is an unusual marriage of artistic expression and public concern which seems to me to be a powerful use of ‘art’ to reflect life. And by virtue of its widespread public involvement tears down the walls of elitism which sometimes enshrines the works of our artistic community. I was caused to stop and reflect on the death of a man cut down in his prime but also pausing to consider how the goodness of ordinary people can help to at least put senseless evil into a fuller context. A cynical voice might say ‘what difference does any of this make, Shane is dead and this doesn’t change that’ but I would say that how we react as a society to evil such as this determines how we can hope for a changed future
The clay team have lined out not just for Shane Geoghegan but for every man, woman and child who longs for a time when such deeds will be no more. Is there not within each of us a sense of hope in the Biblical promise that there’s a day coming when the lion will lye down with the lamb and humankind will beat their swords into ploughshares ! May each one of us work and pray for that great day when God’s Kingdom will come in all its fullness to this tired old earth.