I recently visited the ‘Good Grief Charlie Brown’ Exhibition in London’s Somerset House. The exhibition itself was of great interest to me and an eye-opener to the life of Charles Shultz and his ability to place important issues into his Peanuts strip. Issues which weren’t necessarily popular to highlight but of great merit to social and societal change.
What intrigued me the most after walking through the exhibit, wasn’t the content itself, but the section towards the end allowing visitors to write down questions or thoughts. These would be put to a staff member at a stand which was staffed at certain times. The set up was in the theme of Lucy’s psychiatry booth in the Peanuts comic strip. I started to read these questions and thoughts carefully and intently, where they had been placed on pegs along the wall.
In a society where we seem to rejoice in the mundane, the glorification of celebrity, reality TV shows and we video events rather than interceding, I was astounded by how profound some of the posts were. Existentialist angst ran through many of them like a fine thread of truth. Questions relating to human behaviour, sadness, the meaning of art and injustice leapt out at me. I took my time photographing some and reading all.
The experience left me with a great sense of hope, an understanding that although we put a glossy veneer on life, a veneer that may not always be based in reality, people still have deep and meaningful questions. Questions on the meaning of life, the meaning of happiness and why as humans we can’t be better people. That is the beauty of art the intricate ability to open the mind of the viewer.
Imagination is truly the enemy of fear, for where there are questions there exists the search for truth. I added something myself, partly as a means of catharsis but always with the knowledge that another viewer may relate and not feel so alone in their thinking.