Bears and Smack: Bernie Harfleet and Donna Sarten

Both Harfleet and Sarten use their art to draw attention to social and political injustices across a number of themes, and in particular, with regard to child abuse.

Bears brings new meaning to the song 'Teddy Bears' Picnic'.  Harfleet's 'Bears' are not the warm, cuddly kind, but rather the adults who abuse and kill children.

For the past 25 years Harfleet has worked with young people with disabilities, and has come across cases where these disabilities have been caused by abuse from family members or their care-givers.

The art collective of which he is a member, Habeas Corpus, set a task for each member to make six boxes that reflected childhood.

To Harfleet, this manifested in small, rough-sawn coffins to which he attached plaques based on real children who had suffered at the hands of 'Bears'.

 

 

In her work Smack, Sarten uses the boxing 'punch bag' as a metaphor for child abuse.

Used as a training device for a sport that  condones violence, Sarten's placement of a child's face on the bag begs the viewer to think before striking.

Harfleet's and Sarten's art focuses on the darker aspects of life, and their work draws strong reaction from viewers.

As Harfleet says, "Bears is about adults, and children should be made well aware of these 'Bears'."