Martin Howard: Crocus

Martin Howard: Crocus

Crocus by Martin Howard


Restorative encounters present the opportunity for breakthroughs and new beginnings after long periods of confusion and darkness. These experiences can occur in simple and even bleak environments – community halls and prisons.

The tiny crocus flower grows in bitterly cold environments and at the end of a long winter breaks through the snow, signalling the coming spring with vivid colours.

For thousands of years, the crocus has symbolised renewal and joy and it gives expression to experiences that I have seen emerging from the profound awakening and hope that can emerge from the rich conversation between crime survivors and those who have harmed.

I wanted to use the medium of collage to explore these images, the beauty of the flower and the unsophisticated meeting room of our gathering.

The image of a rushing river is an metaphor that Martin Luther King re-energised from the original writings of an ancient prophet named Amos. It is a emphasises the urgency and potential of justice to invigorate and transform a society.

“…let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”

The artwork was created using digital layers of textures, photos and fragments of colour. It aims to capture the idea of a scrapbook that has been reopened years into the future, full of memories and special moments. It combines the simple and the profound, the pure and the beautiful, encouraging and provoking the viewer to question the connection between the images – and enlarge their perception of what justice could be.

I am a visual designer and artist and I volunteer as a facilitator in the Sycamore Tree Project in Queensland, Australia. This transformative 7-session program brings crime victims into prisons to talk about the consequences of crime. It also allows members of the public, including judges, prison officials and academics to visit the prison and meet the participants and hear their stories of awakening and renewal.