This painting was inspired by some very large pieces I saw in a Restaurant in London. I call it 'Red Girl Clubbing' and its part of a series (2 girls on a mobile is at the bottom of this blog). The originals were done by Paul Lemmon as part of an Exhibition: 'a Slice of Lemmon' put on by the Art Movement. Described as:
Voyeuristic, fixated and fetishist, Lemmon’s work is also exciting, provocative, atmospheric and compelling, in the way it inhabits an unstable, detached, partial and intrusive modern gaze. Like a Toulouse-Lautrec turned sinister.
I found his pictures very compelling.
On Friday night out with the Street Angels down Chertsey Road, Woking, we came across a lot of girls who had been out clubbing.
Quake had reopened after a couple of weeks with a Heavy Rock Band night. Plus of course there is BED Bar, Yates, O'Neals, Cameleon and RSVP
We met one girl who was very upset that she had been thrown out of 'Spoons for bumping into someone. Just 18 she said she had graduated from Police academy and was out celebrating. She was with her fiance. She was quite tearful. We saw her a number of times through the night talking to various people.
Two female street angels spent 2 hours with one girl who was very drunk. Her friends had left her and she had no money and was very upset and agitated. She tried phoning her friends - no joy. At one point she went to relieve herself , squatting down in the dark and a man came and squatted next to her. (I am still appalled at the lack of public toilets in Woking at night) So the 2 angels stuck with her to protect her. Eventually she thought of phoning her father who then came a picked her up by Toys'R'Us. and took her home. He was very grateful.
I suppose that epitomises what the street angels are about - having time to be with the vulnerable and see that they are alright and get home safely.
Very short skirts which leave little to the imagination, and high heels, seem to make girls even more vulnerable. We swept up glass and picked up bottles and gave out all our flip flops. Prevention is always better then expensive medical treatment.
After the drinking comes the eating as the Fast food outlets fill up with hungry punters. McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut, Subway, and the numerous kebab shops.
As one of the Pakistani taxi drivers told us: ' it seems the idea is to drink as much as you can, then get some food down you and be sick then you feel better and you get a taxi home'
It's what people call 'a good night out!'
The Angels patrol the streets to try and help people have a good night and not get into trouble, with a particular eye out for vulnerable girls.
The gospel reading for Sunday is from Matthew when Jesus is described, in contrast to John the Baptist, as 'eating and drinking' and called a 'glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners' (11:19)
I like that. He is at home on the streets, mixing with ordinary people. Those who are having fun, eating and drinking. Partying. Jesus felt at home in such company.
I was left reflecting why it is that the Church has been perceived as being so judgemental and unable to relate to people, so out of touch. Associated more with the aethetic, abolutionist John the Baptist - the puritanical, pietist streak of the church. Whereas Jesus the founder was so at home and so in touch with people. 'Come to me' he said, 'all you who are burdened and heavy ladened, and I will give you rest for your souls'. He understood people and knew what they needed. And being accepted and understood and listened to is so much of what people need. .....
Street Angels in some small way is helping to help put the angel back into evangelical ! So that the church (and not just the church) could also reach outside of itself and serve the young and the vulnerable on the streets. (By the way we are looking for more Angels to we can patrol on busier Saturday nights as well as Fridays - if you are interested let us know or signup online)
During the night, we also saw two foxes near the council offices where we are based. Running around frollicking in the town square. Maybe they too were looking for a good night out. They were certainly in search of food and drink....