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The Art of Facilitation

Creating space to think in art galleries and hospitals

It's one of the absolute pleasures of my life to facilitate philosophical enquiry using art as a starting point. So I'm very lucky that I get to do that once a month at the Graves Gallery (on top of the central library) in Sheffield. We don't always sit in the gallery for the whole session (right) but it is fun - if a bit distracting - when we do.

All are welcome at the Sharing the View: philosophy in the gallery, so if you like art and talking about ideas then you might like join us sometime.

I also like spending time in art galleries as a visitor, and in January was able to the Mercer Gallery in Harrogate (left). They had an open show on, with a a varied collection of framed art on the wall and a few sculptures. So far as I know, the hat wasn't part of the display but still it caught my eye. Possible titles: "Hat on the Gallery Floor" or "Horse Looks at a Hat" or "Doffed"

Of course there is lots of art around in other places, including hospitals. One way or another during January, I have seen some the art on the walls in Leeds, Sheffield and Nottingham hospitals. I'm involved with a creative arts project developing an arts trail in the Nottingham University Hospitals - this painting: Staithes by Tas Severis (right) is at the end of one of their corridors. My part in the project is to get patients, staff and visitors responding to some of the artworks through creative writing, which will be included in the arts trail through the hospitals.

People generally need rather than want to be in hospital, so art can provide a means of escape and respite in those circumstances. Galleries, on the other hand, are almost always optional. I've been wondering whether art in a gallery provides the same sense of escape and respite or whether it is something altogether different.

What difference does the context make to the experience of art?

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