Behind any piece of art, there is the story about the artist who made it. Who are they? What kind of person are they, how long have they been an artist? What motivated them to create this particular piece of work, why did they make this in this way? This is why many people like to meet and talk to the artist. This is why most exhibitions include information about the artist.
I like this information to be a direct, meaningful communication from the artist so a real connection to them is possible – and I believe this is an import part of building the trust and loyalty that encourages people to want to own their work. I also want it to be in language that means something to the people we need to welcome to our exhibitions, who may not be comfortable with ‘Art speak’ As they find art is for them, they may want to understand some of the technical terms that people use to discuss a piece of art – or they may not.
I know that there are people who buy expensive art as an investment – or as a status symbol and for them, knowing the artist's background and ‘track record’ may be important, but for most people, new to art I think it is about first connecting with the work and the person who made it.
So what about the story within the art?
What do you see when your really look at a piece of work? Do you want to make up the story for yourself? Will other people find the same story when they look? Does that matter? Do you like to know what story the artist was telling in the piece first and let this guide you when you look? Even a title can lead you in a particular way.
I don’t know how many people reading this will have already explored ‘Look Club’ with Debbie Kersley. This is a very simple but powerful way of looking at a piece of work and giving yourself time to see and then say what you find when you look at the piece. Done as a group you get to hear what everyone else sees. Each person’s contribution can make me go back and see things I’ve missed or others have interpreted differently, and my recollection of the painting, and what I know about it, lasts so much longer than if I’d just been ‘told’ about it.
At our evening viewing Parabola Arts Centre on 12 December, Debbie Kersley will be encouraging people to try this out at around 5 o’clock and then follow this up with the artist talking about the piece of work. Do join us if you can. Free tickets at www.livingfromart.co.uk/events-training.
What did you see when you looked at the image at the top of this blog? It’s part of a series by Sule Alat called ‘The light at the end of the tunnel. This is what Sule wrote about it.
“In the depths of despair, amidst life’s trials, hope can seem distant. Yet in my response to the Turkish earthquake back in February, I found solace in Art. Five paintings emerged from this experience, each offering a glimmer of hope and comfort in the face of tragedy.”
I know I’ve asked lots of questions here. I really would like to hear what you think – what kinds of stories do you need from the artists? How much do just find your own interpretations? Which artists' stories draw you in – and which ones put you off ? Do leave me a comment or have a chat with me at PAC on 12 December.