I DIDN’T grow up in an artistic household.
My mum has a grand knack for sewing, my dad loves building software, my brother is gifted in both writing and playing music, while I have a media- shaped heart. Art itself was never a “thing” for my family.
Then again, I didn’t really understand the meaning of art.
I always thought “art” was a general description for paintings that were made for people with lots of free time, money and room to ponder.
Art belonged in art galleries, and artists were the only bodies relevant enough to pass through those shiny, sliding doors.
It’s only recently that I’ve learned how wrong I was to generalise. Because of my generalisations of art, I’ve twisted and tumbled through 24 years of life without knowing how much art I have actually consumed.
It’s not all about the paintings, is it?
Writing is an art. Film making is an art. Sucking in the sheer beauty of a building and twisting it into something abnormal is an art.
And when we feel the surge of passion, we can start to understand the power of art and how it is able to reach us?
I decided to put my new found interest to the test and last weekend, I visited Middlesbrough’s small but richly prestigious art gallery, mima – with an open mind and a want to experience EVERYTHING.
I’d been to the institute many times before, mainly for meetings, but this time was different.
I had a purpose – I was hopping on the metaphorical visitor train, and for some reason, it felt like I was looking at the gallery’s kitsch kiddies’ chairs and the never-ending ceiling beams for the first time.
After scanning the glass forum for current exhibition leaflets, I ignored the lure of the coffee shop in the corner and went for the big guns.
Mocha espressos could wait!
I had Markus Karstieß’s new piece on my mind, and I had to see it. As a non-artist, I was eager to see what I could take from it.
“Hello Darkness” greeted me with gloomy, possibly even frightening eyes. The ceramic sculptures dropped from the ceiling into, what appeared to be, pools of fresh earth. I could almost mistake the exhibition for tornadoes, touching down on the art floor, spinning tunnels of shiny mass. Further research told me that Mr Karstieß spent a year crafting this during his time in the Fine Art department of Newcastle University.
One year seemed like such a small space of time for such effort; and from the paused comments of other visitors, I could tell that “Hello Darkness” was capable of literally taking words out of people’s mouths.
It wasn’t generic, and it certainly was not a painting.
My next exhibition harboured many a painting; and I felt as if I really wanted to hit my stereotypical perception of them on the head. William Tillyer ‘s bountiful watercolour collection: “Against Nature”, was the largest exhibition the institute has held in all its years. It pains me to admit that my journalistically programmed mind found it difficult to read some pieces (why is that bit there? What does it mean?)
But the abundance of colours, textures and themes proceeded to soak me with artistic appreciation. It made me realise that yes, people do stand and ponder paintings – but also that it is an enjoyable escapism.
Drifting back into the forum, I was hit by an artsy parallel universe. This was not the solemn silence that I expected.
The mocha espressos grinded away accompanied by a cheery chorus of friendly local voices, while the mima staff bounced around in branded t-shirts and dads and their daughters sat around with co-ordinated toys on the squishy, kitsch chairs.
Despite my non-artistic status, my visit to the gallery opened my eyes in ways that I wouldn’t usually find them opening.
I left mima realising that “art” is not only for people with lots of free time, money and room to ponder…