Among the cobbled streets, quaint houses and weathered pastel shutters of Céret, France, there is a plethora of messages draped across a sculpture. The dynamic white art installation stands out as the only modern architectural structure in the village, creating a stark contrast between old and new. You are encouraged to write whatever message you want on a stretch of wood.
The hundreds of messages, ranging from 'Phillipe was here' to 'Never give up' makes you think about how special this place is. Perhaps not an entirely original concept, but nonetheless, it is a manifestation of free speech as everyone can write their own unique message. It makes you think about all the different people who've come across this, and left their mark in this town. Maybe it was a local who hates the interruption of the cohesive french architecture or maybe a tourist like me, who's just excited about art.
The small panels allow you to write a simple phrase, forcing you to think about the one message you want to share at this moment in time. What is the most important thing to you right now? What do you want to say to the rest of the world (or perhaps this town)? What short phrase would benefit another human? I'm usually awful at these things. I spend a long time trying to come up with a phrase which I like, but isn't too cliched or cheesy.
At that moment in time, my piece of advice to the world was 'Live For You'. It's something that has been lurking in my brain since I was 13 and trying to build my (now fairly solid) confidence. When you're growing up, finding your likes and dislikes is challenging. You're concerned about people judging you for your choices, whether it's signing up for an 'uncool' activity or choosing to wear something a little out of the ordinary. Whenever I start to worry about what other people think of me, I remind myself that it's my life, I'm the one living it, so I should do what's best for me or what I want to do - I'm living for me. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, such as doing the right thing (which can go against what you want) or putting others' needs before your own. But in it simplest form 'Live For You', reminds me to make my own decisions, stand up for myself, and always focus on my wellbeing, because at the end of the day, I'm the one inside this body, and I'm the one who is going to deal with the consequences of my decisions.
I know I risk sounding pretentious and that's the last thing I want. But for me it's about being confident and being brave enough to make decisions regardless of peer pressure or convention. It's not always easy and I don't always get it right. But for me, it's a useful guide and part of just being myself.