Watching the Turner Prize last night, it turns out that Nicholas Serota, director of Tate Modern has been instrumental in it for many years. And while I don't really remember the first Turner Prize, haven't always paid attention to it, and haven't necessarily at the time always understood or appreciated the art it offered, I have increasingly felt its presence in the national psyche. The Prize is an annual opportunity to raise art in our consciousness.
Why is art important? A complex and for some contentious question. There is of course, the economic argument:
'Businesses in the UK arts and culture industry generated an aggregate turnover of £12.4 billion
in 2011, which is 3.5 per cent lower than its peak in 2008. The subsets of the arts and culture
industry’s productive activities of book publishing, performing arts and artistic creation are the
largest contributors to the industry’s aggregate turnover performance.
This led those businesses to contribute an estimated £5.9 billion of gross value added (GVA) to
the UK economy, also in 2011. However, the GVA contribution of these businesses has grown
since 2008, in contrast to turnover. Closer analysis reveals that businesses in the arts and
culture industry have been successful in cutting costs and have thus, by increasing their GVA,
increased their contribution to UK GDP even as the wider economy contracted.'
The contribution of the arts and culture to the national economy, Report for Arts Council England and the National Museums Directors’ Council May 2013
Visiting Tate Modern one year I entered a gallery and high on the diagonally opposite wall hung a long piece of heavy blue canvas on a rail. Its drape could be adjusted in various ways causing it to be interpreted differently. Apparently one draping is likened to what I shall daintily call 'the male member'. That wasn't what I saw. For me it was a Katharine Hepburn or Lauren Bacall film star dress from the 1930's or 40's. Because it was my brain and my memories and my likes and dislikes and my artistic and fashion aspirations it was interacting with. Art as an individual experience. I bought a post card of it. I have it still. I'm going to dig it out and design that dress.......
Gloucester Cathedral hosts an annual exhibition of sculpture. It is one of the very best things that takes place in my city and people come from quite some distance. We get to see new works and older works, works from this country, works from abroad and from local artists. We also get Henry Moore sculptures and Damien Hirst's. We count ourselves very lucky. The event is a triple whammy of pleasure though.... We get to see all this imported art but we also get to remind ourselves of the beauty, art and workmanship that exists in the Cathedral day in, day out. And the third whammy is that people don't just view in silence. They talk about it. Even to strangers. 'That's amazing', 'oh, I love that', 'that was done by one of my neighbours', 'that's my favourite', 'I never would have thought to put that with that, but now they have - it just makes you feel...', 'it's good - you can tell it's good.....but ...I couldn't live with it.' 'couldn't you just take her home and have her striding across your house, looking out into the distance like that.' And so on.
Life enhancing. And so, therefore, has Nicholas Serota been. Thank you.
A quick thank you also to my fabulous niece Michelle who told me her favourite fashion magazine was 'Red' and caused me to pick it up and read it in the dentist's waiting room. Serious business, this trend research.
Faye Brown Design's Advent Challenge today was Christmas Trees - it's been a long day so here's just a couple of quick sketches to be worked up properly tomorrow: