A Restless Art

The history, theory and practice of community art

Performance by Šančiai community Association (Kaunas) in Luxembourg, 10 June 2022

A Restless Art could be called ‘everything you ever wanted to know about participatory art, but were too afraid to ask’. The book combines a nuanced, careful study of participatory art with a detectable passion, born of Matarasso’s lifelong experience of the form. This is not dry dissection: the writing is lived, in the field, partisan.”

Lucy Neal, Arts Professional, February 2019

More recommendations

Helen Simons, Professor Emeritus of Education and Evaluation at the University of Southampton

‘For anyone interested in participatory art and community art, this book is a must read and will likely remain so for years to come. It charts the history and evolution of participatory art in this country and many countries abroad, arguing the case for its continued development with passion and creative force. It is strongly theoretically grounded yet integrated with an insightful awareness of how politics affect this art, and indeed all art. Elegantly and creatively written with telling examples, it shows how the power of this ‘restless art’ has made an impact on peoples’ lives and communities. François Matarasso has the unique quality and far reaching knowledge of one who is both a practitioner and scholar of the arts and humanities. He interweaves these exceptional talents in this book with consummate skill, wisdom and insight that give participatory art its well-deserved place in history.’

Stella Duffy, Writer and Co‐Founder of Fun Palaces 

‘The arts are particularly skilled at reinventing the wheel—each generation wants to believe its work is all new, breaking previously unbroken boundaries, truly transgressive and creating genuine change. In truth none of us works in a vacuum and, whether we acknowledge it or not, all of our work is built on that of our pre­decessors. In this book, François Matarasso offers an extensive understanding of the work that came before and a thoughtful analysis of what’s happening now, all of which can help us see where we could be headed and what will help us get there, as practitioners, funders, policy­makers or the communities who are (or should be) the beating heart of our work. Above all and hugely welcome right now, this is a hopeful book, focused on deeds not words, on activity and action, which is fortunate—there is much to be done.’

John Fox MBE, Co-founder Welfare State International and Dead Good Guides

‘At last a reliable text raising the neglected profile of community and participatory art practitioners of the last 50 years. Illustrated with a mass of inspiring inter­ national examples, François Matarasso offers scholarly reflective theory, historical insight and a passionate manifesto for ways of creating social transformation.’

Wrexham One Love Choir performing with NTW Team on 18 November 2022