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Taking time to look at art

Summer Exhibition

I achieved a long-time ambition this month; to go to the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Doing something I've looked forward to for many years can be a mixed blessing, but happily this lived up to my hopes and expectations. I loved the overwhelmingness of it, the sheer quantity of art, although that also made it challenging, especially for a first-timer, not knowing how to manage my looking. Perhaps there’s some kind of equation that would help me describe this: (time available/artworks on display) x (interest x impact) = exhibition satisfaction.

I didn’t know that there would be different curators for different rooms, and seeing the impact of their choices and arrangements was intriguing and instructive. The picture on the above is of the section that I was most drawn to – from top left a skull (apologies for the quality, it was impossible not to catch the reflection of the ceiling glass) to bottom right a urinal. Such is life. Plenty of philosophical stimulus in there! You can find more information about the artists here.

Time for titles

I found the use of reference numbers rather than the usual interpretative information liberating, in many ways, but missed knowing what the titles were.

As for example with the fried eggs (right), which I had initially thought were an oil painting that looked like a photography and was slightly disappointed to discover were actually a photograph, but then, because I'd looked them up, I learned the title of the piece is Drifting Apart (by Geoffrey Burling) and I liked them a lot more because it.

Is there any such thing as free time?

Closer to home, this month I facilitated a short workshop at the Ignite Imaginations Annual Conference. The theme this year was The Art of Imagination and Volunteering and I used Time as a stimulus for some philosophical prompts followed by creative writing activities responding to the question: What inspires you to give your time for free?

The picture (above) is of a very short concrete poem by one participant, which I found particularly striking. What inspires you to give your time for free?

Write from the Art

Coming up soon, on Saturday 2nd September as part of the Sheffield Showcase weekend, I’m going to be offering a new workshop: Write from the Art, which will include looking at art, philosophical thinking activities and creative writing. Book your place here.

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