In periods of overwhelming historical change, groups of 'ordinary' people have sought to depict in visual terms the experiences they are going through. Without formal training, and using whatever materials are to hand, they have produced intensely moving images. Examples of this popular art, brought together here for the first time, range from the cities of Central Africa to the Chinese people's communes, from the nightmare images of the Hiroshima survivors to the weavings of Greenham Common and the patchworks of of the Chilean resistance.
In every case, an urgency to communicate - and a precision both of facts and of feelings - breaks through inevitable limitations of materials and style. This urgency, moreover, is not simply individual. Whatever their stylistic shortcomings, these works express collective pain, or collective energy and elan, in a way which seems beyond the individual professional artist. In connecting and studying works produced in different contexts and different continents, this book opens up a field that has been largely ignored by art criticism, yet can often give a deeper insight into the contemporary world than the major established forms of art, or of the mass media.