Thoughts on Public Trust

Public Trust 2023 – Photo by Kate Green

Written by Birmingham based Artist Demi Nandhra, a friend of Fierce and regular collaborator, most recently as a team member on Public Trust – a public participation project by Paul Ramírez Jonas at Birmingham Festival 23. This piece was written in response to her experience of being involved in the project.

First off I will say I wanted nothing less than to be around people setting promises to
themselves on a Monday morning.
An action that holds and demands positivity (cus who’s doing negative promises) No, I didn’t fancy being around people whom were committing to be better, to do better, when I’m currently struggling to just be.
But that’s what art does right, when done well, gently prunes at you and gives you something that you need. A moment to reflect, or shake you into action, an affirming hug or pisses on your biases and assumptions, gives you another perspective. It latches on to something that you need usually soul deep.

The experience comforted me in my own current discomfort.
Sandwiched between daily tasks of “we need to pop into primark for holiday clothes” / was
People’s deep desires.

“I promise to become the woman god knows I am”

Bloody hell what a proclamation. First I experienced the feeling of shame. Shame that I
don’t have that strong commitment to myself. And then admiration. They took lots of
pictures with their promise. Which I think, is one of the important rituals of the project. A
public declaration of intention for self that is large, very large, so you can see it, really see it
and maybe just maybe you will fulfil your promise.

I think most promises were grounded in love. In wanting for more love, for themselves and

“I promise to be kind to myself”
“I promise to keep making art”
“I promise to support future generations with the climate crisis”

I’m by nature a negative Nelly. I like to moan, and complain it comforts me. It comforts a lot
of us, helps us hide. But being outside, while Brummies made commitments to love in
someway, in their own way, made me feel, I wouldn’t say positive just less negative.

“I promise to get out more, a bit”

Made me feel better.

I didn’t make a promise, I thought about it. Nearly did, but I wanted my experience to stay
as a witness. I didn’t need to fully commit to a promise to enjoy the feeling of what saying a
promise can do especially in public.