Sunday, 31 August 2014

Why "Art" Needn't Be So Pretentious...

The new Irish Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, stated recently on the radio that her policy was simple: “arts is for everyone.” I found this absolutely refreshing and wonderful, as it’s an issue that’s been playing on my mind for months and months.

Even the word “art” can be a little intimidating. We immediately think of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Lowry, Picasso, Monet… who perhaps we might know about, or perhaps might just be words thrown around to seem sophisticated.

In fact, art encompasses dozens of different media and within that, hundreds if not thousands of styles. Music, film, radio, television, literature, painting, photography, theatre… to name but a few. And frankly, we all need to stop being such snobs about it.

When it comes to art, there really are no rules—or at least, those rules that are in place are made to be broken. Art is undefined and undefinable.

For me, if I were to define it, I would say that art can be anything that makes us think or feel a certain way.
It can be very intimidating to state what our favourite TV programme, song, book, film, or any piece of art might be. So much so that this admission is often proceeded by a swift: “It’s my guilty pleasure” to excuse anything that might sound “uncultured”, or that terrifying four letter word… “mainstream”.

Everything is art, and I think it deserves to be appreciated. If you’re one of those people who refers to One Direction as “mainstream” or says they don’t make “real music”, remember that people once said similar about The Beatles. One man’s champagne being another man’s vinegar springs to mind. I’m just using One Direction as an example, by the way, as they’re in the media so much. I’m not even that big a fan myself, but if someone tells me that “Kiss You” made them look at life differently or gave them happiness, then who am I to argue?

My parents often sniff at my love of the BBC series Waterloo Road, and I don’t blame them: it’s hardly what you’d call “high-class entertainment”. It’s hardly what you’d call “art”...

A few months ago I was really angry with a loved one because they simply weren’t seeing things from my side. After a good, productive day of crying and fuming, I sat down in front of the telly and watched the episode where a young couple, Kevin and Dynasty have had a row. Dynasty is in the middle of having a right go at Kevin when things get blurry and distant, he begins to collapse…

He’s had a stroke. There’s a clot on his brain. He, a teenage boy, is rushed to hospital and may be about to die.

Immediately my mind snapped to my loved one. What would I do if I lost them suddenly like that? Now, in the middle of a fight? I realised that I didn’t hate them; I couldn’t. I realised that while I didn’t always like this person, while I might be angry like Dynasty was at Kevin, I didn’t know what I would do without them.
That night, I forgave my loved one. I told them just how important they were to me.

 Art makes you think. Art changes the way you look at a situation. It doesn’t just hang in the gallery; it isn’t just viewed through opera glasses. In life, art is everywhere. We need only look. 

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