But is it art?


“Skill without imagination is craftmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.” – Tom Stoppard.

Sometimes I struggle with art. I remember arguing with a tutor once who told me a painting of a vase of flowers represented women’s oppression over 400 years. I asked her why it wasn’t possible that the artist had seen a vase of flowers in the light on a windowsill and painted them because he/she liked them, and therefore it was just a vase of flowers.

She looked at me in a patronizing ‘oh poor dear you don’t understand’ way and said I was being too simplistic. But really, does everything have to have a hidden meaning? Why can’t something just be aesthetically pleasing?

And at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, gorgeous daughter number 1 and I spent a while looking for the exhibit near to the label we were reading, only to find we were standing on it.

So I came to this profound conclusion.

If I like it, then in my eyes it is art. If I don’t, then in my eyes it is just a big pile of crap. And I am perfectly prepared to agree it is art if someone else likes it and I don’t … but it is only art in their eyes, not mine.

This is an example of the second category as far as I am concerned.

It appears to me that someone has fly-tipped some old steel girders in the middle of a very beautiful park. I just don’t get it.

Yesterday Man and I ventured up the M1 again to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park.

Now, just to warn you, although its website will shout to the world that it is free, the car park costs £5 for two hours or £7.50 for the day and there are no concessions for disabled people, so technically (if you travel there by car) it isn’t free at all, it is lying.

That said, it  is lovely and well worth the £7.50 price tag.

It was the  most beautiful autumn day and the colours were amazing. There are 500 acres of parkland to explore, dotted with sculptures, cattle, lovely scenery and random stuff.

There are also a few indoor galleries, which we bypassed this time because it was such a lovely day and we wanted to be outside.

There is lots of woodland and a lake and I really must buy myself a new pair of walking boots because I trundled along in most unsuitable red canvas shoes and got cold, wet, muddy feet.

Here are some examples of sculptures I enjoyed very much.

I’ve got loads more photos of other bits of the park (and some more fungi) but I think I’ll save them for later.

After we left the park we headed south to visit some old friends of mine in north Nottinghamshire and the recent additions to their clan. More on that later too, cos I haven’t finished playing with the photos yet :).

  1. My eldest daughter is talented at drawing and quite good at painting and craft-type projects too but when she was studying for her A level in art, she constantly struggled with “interpretation”. She had so many “discussions” with her teacher that would go something like this. Him: “what does this represent?” Her “nothing, I just did it because I liked it.” The quality of her output was very high and she passed with an A grade despite doing it in her spare time while studying for her GCSEs. But at the end, she and her teacher agreed she could never be “an artist” and she devoted herself to science from then on.

    I find that photography offers many similar situations. I read a lot of commentary where people wax lyrical about various photos and photographers and I find the phrase “there’s one born every minute” popping into my head. The pundits may be eloquent and the photographer may be successful but the emperor may still have no clothes on!

    • That’s exactly it James, you have hit the nail on the head. I’m afraid as I get older and grumpier nothing will persuade me that something I think is ugly and ridiculous is profound art :)

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