More carpenters than jackasses

In this part of Northern Europe, midwinter skies are often bright and clear. The low sun floods in like stage light, giving new shape to familiar land. It’s a precious reminder when the nights are so long, seeming to light the way forward. As the saying goes, if you look towards the light, the shadows will fall behind you. 

It can seem facile to speak of peace in these troubled days, but hope remains humanity’s best response to danger because, as Rebecca Solnit says ‘Hope locates itself in the premise that we don’t know what will happen and that in the spaciousness of uncertainty is room to act.’  (Rebecca Solnit, Hope in the Dark, Canongate Books)

The final chapter of A Restless Art (where these words also appear) is called ‘Hope in Uncertainty’ because that’s what community art needs and offers. After all these years, my confidence in its value is undiminished because I meet so many ordinary people whose extraordinary courage, creativity and generosity make life better. Regular Marvels.

A Texas politician once said that ‘a jackass can kick a barn down, but it takes a carpenter to build one.’ That’s true, but there are many more carpenters in the world, many more. Let’s make it a happy new year.


‘A Restless Art’ was published in January 2019. Many things have changed since then—for the world, for community art, and for me. It’s time for this site to change too. Over the years, I’ve used several websites for different projects, notably Regular Marvels and Parliament of Dreams. They will go dormant for a while and then be closed. Anything worth keeping will migrate here in the coming months. What was here is now under the menu item called ‘A Restless Art’, but that too will be thinned in due course. This site will then continue to evolve, with my work and thinking, though there will be fewer posts for a while. If you’d like to be notified by email when new things are posted, you can subscribe below.

One comment

  1. Dear François, Thank you very much for your ‘The end of the beginning’ and ‘More carpenters than jackasses’. We value your commentaries which are always lucid and to the point and in this instance particularly moving. Your future plans sound very thought through and strong, so here’s hoping 2023 works out well. Yes, whatever your new website turns out to be please keep us in the loop and do visit us on your travels. We would love to see you.

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