Art can’t change your life - its not a diet programme or the latest guru - it offers no quick fixes. What art can do, is to prompt in us authentic desire. By that I mean it can waken us to truths about ourselves and our lives; truths that normally lie suffocated under the pressure of the twenty-four hour emergency zone called real life. Art can bring us back to consciousness, sometimes quietly, sometimes dramatically, but the responsibility to act on what we find, is ours.

I know of a man, a Quaker, who volunteered as an ambulance driver in World War Two. While other men had pictures of their sweethearts in their breast pockets, he carried a photo of a Queen Anne chair.

In his despair at where human folly had brought him and millions of others, he needed to remember the glory of the human spirit, as well as its loss. Like Barbara Hepworth, he believed that art affirms and sustains life at its highest level.

Image Caption: Lara Favaretto, installation view of It Can (Not) Advance, 2011, in the exhibition Fuoriclasse, GAM, Milan, 2012, confetti, 35 7⁄16 x 35 7⁄16 x 35 7⁄16 in. (90 x 90 x 90 cm); Private collection, Sweden. Photo: Delfino Sisto Legnani

Text excerpted from Jeanette Winterson’s essay for The Guardian titled What is art for?, glimpsed again on the walls of the Braddock Carnegie Library during the 2013 Carnegie International