I do not always get on with modern art. There is a lot about old art that I do not get even when I like it.
I am pretty sure that the Philistines, whoever they were, had art and appreciated it; they probably just got maligned by people who didn’t like them and influenced the English culture. I might be maligning them by comparison.
A local set of gardens have just opened an art gallery in the old house; Dad and I went in there today to take a little look around.
The ground floor had some portraits, a picture of the old landscape gardens themselves, and a couple of what I think were Romantic Landscapes with castles and ships. I loved them, but there was no label or explanation; apparently they didn’t warrant a mention in the sheet we got.
We went upstairs and looked round the galleries there. It wasn’t ideal, partly because there was no lift and Dad now finds unfamiliar stairs without two handrails a problem, but we did our best.
There were some pieces I liked. A clock made from a swarm of insects was interesting, if not much use for telling the time. A bird in a nest of turquoise swirls was very pretty. Others, like a film of an apparently blind man filmed walking and speaking backwards on an escalator then played forwards, seemed a bit too likely to “do my head in” as the saying goes. A neon sign on a wall turned out later to be by someone famous called Tracy Emin.
A couple of side-galleries had things I liked. One was planting diagrams for a variety of gardens, although some colour would have been nice, or a simulation of their appearance that could be played with.
The piece I liked most was another installation. There were coils of wire and pieces of metal on the floor, abstract or half-finished, but tantalising. The walls were decorated with pictures and information about plants, which was a nice bit of context with the gardens outside. Coffee mugs and even a container of milk made it appear a studio in use; in fact, it was probably a living residency. I realised the room was an invitation to join the artist in their creative process, to become involved in how they experimented and conjured a form taking inspiration from the raw materials, surroundings and own internal landscape; to both wonder what they would make, and what you would make, and what if they cross fertilised? So I went to look at the sign on the door.
It said “Staff Room.”