Better than Christmas is a pilot art project we started in November 2008. We decided to make people's wishes 'come true' by painting and drawing them. We surveyed members of the general
public asking them what they really wanted most of all for Christmas, what their 'real' wishes were. We left red wish boxes in pubs, shops, arts centres etc. We engaged people face to face and
in addition sent requests out by email asking people via our website.

We asked 1000 people and received approximately 110 wishes. Of these, we managed to paint or draw approximately 60 wishes in the space of 6 weeks. These were exhibited at the beginning of
January 2009 at the Horsebridge Arts & Community Centre in Whitstable, Kent. The wishes that had not been painted were displayed in written form on banners for the public to read. See what you think…..

James and I worked well together. James liked the more material wishes for specific objects to paint whereas I was drawn to the more emotional ones to do with relationships or loved ones. But there was a good deal of cross-over. James worked in oil, and I drew with paint in a very linear style straight from the imagination. We worked pretty solidly on the project for about 2 months.

We are aware that many wish-makers were from further afield and that this website may indeed be the first time they see their picture. This is something we are looking forward to.
 

The title 'Better than Christmas' was not intended in any way to come across as unChristian, or to suggest Christmas was not a uniquely important time in people's lives – a focus and intensification of both love and suffering, communion and pain or isolation, material acquisition or deepening spirituality. For children, we were not suggesting Christmas isn't extremely cool, rather we were exploring one aspect of it – the possibility or not of our hopes and desires being fulfilled or realised through the gifts or actions of others. It is a time of great expectations.
   

There are financial and physical limitations to satisfaction in the real world but by contrast, the possibilities in art, in a picture, are limitless. The wish-painting concept is also a reminder of how much of our lives we live in the imagination, to the point where gratification or even happiness can be achieved in large measure in that realm alone.
 

We tried to get close to the concerns of others by asking them to generate our subject matter in this way. This is art, not as commodity, but where personal experience takes precedence. We withheld the names of people who made wishes to protect their anonymity.
   

We hope our wishmakers felt their wishes were heard somehow through this project.
   

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