The Illustrated City

Cave of the Forgotten

Cave of the Forgotten

I love this place. Spotted from a distance while driving by on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, I think it’s a great find. It is a peculiar and probably inadvertent reminder of where we all come from.

The Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France has the world’s oldest known graffiti. The work dating back to 30, 000BC are the best examples of mankind’s most inherent ability and need to express thoughts through imagery. Long before we were texting, blogging, publishing novels, kerning type, graphic designing, drafting numerical symbols and alphabets, writing kanji or scribing in Egyptian hieroglyphics and cuneiform our direct ancestors were communicating the thoughts in their heads by making cave paintings; that we regard today as masterpieces, from pigments made of minerals and biological matter. They are the real origins of the communicative visual arts.

This is intrinsic communication of all people, it really isn’t a talent possessed solely by a select percentage of the human population we all have the gene for it. It’s only because modern societies have conditioned themselves to regard the arts as of secondary importance to the application of mathematics, science and political ideology to economics, commercialism and social living that many have forgotten how valuable the ability of visual art expression is to the human experience. Too many of us have become too good at suppressing the gene for that skill set.

A common sarcasm today is “everybody’s an artist”. I say sure! Of course! We were meant to be that way. Without being artistic, we can’t convey or realize the things we mean to invent. Why on earth would anyone want to relegate and stifle it? This aspect of the human condition should be encouraged and utilized.

This place is not a prehistoric cave but a drainage tunnel in the neighbourhood of Trenholme; a piece of modern infrastructure at the edge of a suburb. It is remarkable; nevertheless, that it has been put to alternative use by graffiti writers in much the same way that our primitive predecessors did when they needed to share ideas with each other without a well-defined spoken language or sophisticated technology.

3 thoughts on “The Illustrated City

  1. Love the shot and the write-up definitely puts in context. There’s something about tunnels that I really like.

    While I don’t consider myself an “artist” in the conventionally accepted way, I can absolutely see the need for an outlet for the creative part of me. The outlet may change every few years, or stay the same, but the need is always there. Foolish to try to hide it or stifle it.

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