“Peace or War/The Big Picture” 12.6 X 1.65 metres (41’3” X 5’3”)
Installation: State Library of Victoria, Australia
This website gives a brief introduction to the studio practice of artist and social activist William Kelly.
It briefly introduces the viewer to his work as a painter, draughtsman, sculptor, printmaker and to selected collaborations in theatre, landscape design and architecture. Professor Ricardo Viera speaks of Kelly’s work “moving seamlessly” between the studio and the wider world. As such his work is equally regarded in the art world and in that juncture where human rights, social justice, peace and reconciliation come together. In the former context his work is often mentioned in relation to that of fellow artist predecessors such as Hesse, Kollwitz, Tolstoy, Goya and Picasso while in the second his ideals are often associated with the intentions of socially aware activists such as Hanna Arendt, Nelson Mandela, Vaclav Havel, Daniel Berrigan, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A feature documentary film following the two year evolution of Kelly’s monumental artwork ‘Peace or War/The Big Picture’ and his collaborations with other artist/activists worldwide has just been completed and is now released internationally.
“A beautiful and very important film.” Jasmina Bojic, Camera as Witness Program/ Stanford University
“A beautiful testimony to the power of art.” Inga Klavinka, Poirier Films, France
Images from the film...
This is a unique, beautifully filmed, thought-provoking, award-winning film that follows the evolution of artist/activist William Kelly’s monumental artwork “Peace or War/The Big Picture” and his journeys of collaboration with other artists and peace activists with whom he works. Its title comes from his having said, “A painting can never stop a bullet, but a painting can stop a bullet from being fired”. Artists and journalists are the first to be targeted in oppressive regimes. This film is about the power of art and artists to speak out - to take a stand. Using Goya and Picasso as examples, Kelly further underscores this in conversations with fellow artists and activists on five continents. Important as well are moving stories told by survivors of the horrors of Guernica, Auschwitz and Hiroshima, and of the roll art has played in their lives.
The twenty participants include: Martin Sheen (USA), Rama Mani (France), Rita Duffy (Ireland), John Keane (Uk), Nick Ut (USA), Ben McKeown (Australia), Yanagi Yukinori (Japan). It also introduces insights from art historians Sasha Grishin and Ian McLean, philosopher A.C. Grayling, Tilman Ruff (co-founder of Nobel Prize winning ICAN) and Indigenous activist Rose Lester.
When asked, ‘Can art stop a bullet from being fired?’
Kelly answers, ‘Absolutely!’.
Mark Street, Director. Fiona Cochrane, Producer. firstname.lastname@example.org For information on the film, updates of screenings, and to view the ‘trailer’ please visit www.kellysbigpicture.com
and join our community of activists and engaged citizens on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WilliamKellysBigPicture/
For organisations, universities and secondary schools to organise screenings please go to https://fan-force.com/films/can-art-stop-a-bullet/
“His process of weaving art through his life and community suggests his homage to the modus vivendi of past ethical engineers such as Leo Tolstoy, Hermann Hesse and Mohandas Gandhi. These men, like Kelly, were also curious about the physiognomy of their times and motivated to articulate a better way of being human”.
Anna Clabburn, “William Kelly – A shot at the Dark”, from the catalogue A Contemporary Tragedy: An Exhibition by William Kelly (1993) Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne, Australia.
“There are clues to his passion for both the ‘fictional’ world of the canvas and the ‘real’ world of urban spaces. Kelly appears to move between them with equanimity”.
Professor Ricardo Viera, from the catalogue William Kelly: Works in Collaboration (1990) Lehigh University Art Museum, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA.
"In the tradition of artists like Kathe Kollwitz, Goya and Picasso, writers like Tolstoy and Hermann Hesse, and humanists like Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Kelly encourages his audience to reflect on the issue of violence and the possibilities for action against it."
Julia Clinger, The Chautauquan, New York, 1994
"His processes are interrogative, non-judgemental, juxtaposed, discontinuous. He offers a vast and complex narrative capable of many useful readings: a lively interaction between timeless moral philosophy and contemporary thought."
Jenny Zimmer, for catalogue, of William Kelly's exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, Australia
“William Kelly explores human space and human images…and the poetry of markmaking.”
Janet McKenzie, ‘William Kelly: Artist as Peacemaker.’ In Studio International, London, Autumn, 2008
“Kelly’s new work at the State Library of Victoria suspended above the domed La Trobe Reading Room continues his artistic modus operandi of dialogue and a commitment to humanist principles while also asking us to consider the reality of our collective failure…”
Dr. Vincent Alessi, Introduction to the installation of “Peace or War/The Big Picture, Melbourne, 2016