Good Wives and Warriors Tackle Global Hunger at the World Expo
When the world collects every few years for the World Expo, the convergence adopts a theme that examines world issues. This year in Milan they’ve taken on “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” finding the relationship between food, production, hunger, and wealth on the world stage. When we consider the growing world population and diminishing resources, it’s a vital and somber task.
Good Wives and Warriors teamed up to transform the Federalimentare Expo Pavilion into a work of art that combines a gigantic static mural alongside a screen with animations by Felice Limosani. “Our painting was showing the depletion of the fish stocks over the last hundred years, that’s why it’s called ‘Future Seas,’” explains Becky Bolton, half of Good Wives and Warriors with Louise Chappell. “It’s a giant infographic that shows a hundred years ago all the fish species and ocean life, slowly decreasing, getting to where there’s nothing, only jellyfish.” The fishing that we’ve been exacting against the oceans is unsustainable at best, and completely ecologically destructive at worst. The theme of the Expo is to feed the planet, and we cannot do that without the resource of our oceans. The health of the oceans is, in many ways, the most crucial aspect of maintaining the health of our own species, making Good Wives and Warriors’ piece particularly prescient.
You’ll notice that a lot of the work that Good Wives and Warriors produces is entirely in black and white. They weren’t going to change their style for this mural. In fact, they employed it consciously, knowing that it would add to the impact of the piece and help them tell the story in a more effective way. “For something like this it’s a really good way of getting tone and line and really bold painting,” says Becky. “A lot of the work we like are like old etchings and the line work that goes into something that’s black and white is a lot more about line and tone. We just prefer the subtlety and purity of black and white.” By removing color, the piece becomes less about an assault on the senses and more about the fine details and movement. It removes a perceptive gauze and makes way for a more intimate connection with the animals in the piece.
What’s most amazing about the final piece is perhaps the fact that Becky and Louise began the mural without a specific layout. They planned out the major shapes of the piece and then created the rest in the moment as they painted. “We had a rough idea of the infographic, but the rest we just freehand. We just make it up. We have a lot of secondary sources, print outs of the ocean life, and really because everything is the two of us doing it, all of these interconnect, so we can’t plan it. All of it has to just happen,” Becky says. “Otherwise it would lose its spontaneity and all the mistakes and the drips and stuff we didn’t know where going to happen but just sort of became creatures.” The in-the-moment creations made for a piece that is both captivating and beautiful tells the story of how we’re affecting our oceans and begs for change lest we enable our own decline.