“So I can start working on being an artist, Giovanna” my mother said to me when we finished looking at the art exhibition and talking to the artist that organized it. The exhibition called Art on the Hill was part of the Southside Fringe Festival of the city of Glasgow that took place last May.
So I went with my mother and we had a look, and while we were having a look there were other people coming to see the art objects. There were all kinds of people, the same kind that you can find walking, shopping, in a cafe or even on the bus…not the people, without wanting to stereotype, you would find in front of a work of art inside a fancy art gallery. And there he was: the artist, keeping the place in order, DJing, replacing some artworks and talking spontaneously with the people; whicht truly impressed me.
It is not that I have lots of experience visiting art galleries, but the times that I have visited some in Barcelona, never has the gallery owner approached me asking about my aesthetic experience. Quite the contrary, he or she would just cast a glance at me from the desk when I would come in, and continue to write or read on the computer without caring about me… In a while, I could feel how they would start looking at me like “what are you doing here?” or “why are you here if you are not going to buy anything because you don’t have the money and surely you don’t know anything about art? So don’t waste your time coming here”. Some of them would not even say “good bye” when you left the gallery. And with others you would have to be careful about asking them anything because they might not answer, not wanting to waste their time explaining anything to you. These should have a sign saying “please don’t bother if you are not going to buy art”.
This hasn’t occurred to me here in Glasgow. I remember how one day I was with my friend and we went into an art gallery and its director suddenly came to us and started explaining to us about some of the art objects he had in exhibition; he even asked us what our plans for the day were… I was really shocked! And the same thing happened that day with my mother when we met the artist that organized the art event in the Church on the Hill. His name is Peter Gillies, and meeting him was a good experience for me.
As we were leaving the exhibition, I turned around to wait for my mum and I saw the artist talking to her. I joined them and my mum was explaining to him that she has always liked art but felt that she didn’t have the necessary skills, although recently she had taken some art classes.
What is the meaning of having artistic skills? What does it mean to have a talent? Is my mum less an artist just because she never received a proper art lesson? She is not an Ingres or a Mark Rothko, but she enjoys doing “art” and she is not an artist. She is just a homemaker that used to like colouring when she was a little girl and had never “painted” anything until a few years ago (and she is over sixty). And that was what she was telling the artist, as he listened to her.
“That is ok. It doesn’t matter if you have never painted or taken an art course before…When you are a child you don’t know how to paint but you just paint and you are involved in the action of painting or drawing and you just enjoy the moment. With time, we lose that spontaneity and start to adhere to rules imposed by “professionals” telling us how to paint correctly, by rules, keeping you away from the real joy of creation. So what you are doing is good. Experiencing painting is the only thing that counts”.
His words reminded me of all the “Outsider Art” background and all that really interests me in Art. So listening to him was a pleasure because he was talking about things that I believe in; like the reason of organizing the exhibition, that was only for the purpose of giving the opportunity to young artists of different kinds to exhibit their works and to offer them to the public. Artists that perhaps was their first exhibition or artists that are not in official galleries because they are not as good as the gallery directors may think… And I liked that point of view. Here is an explanation about this exhibition.
Meeting him, then, made me think that sometimes it is not important to know much about Art if you just like what you see and that it may not be essential to be an artist if you enjoy painting, colouring or drawing. After talking to him I felt inspired to write this post and I really encouraged my mum to keep doing her simple “works of art”. This experience also makes me think about the meaning of being an artist and about what or who defines what is Art and what is not.
Here you are my mother’s try at painting: