Wednesday, 23 April 2008

De La Warr Pavillions

Age of innocence ... Slagheap Landscape 1953, by William Scott. Photograph: The William Scott Foundation 2008

Euston Steps - Study (1980-81), by Frank Auerbach

In today's Guardian Grayson Perry has written a very interesting piece about a forth coming exhibition he has curated for the De La Warr Pavillions in Bexhill on Sea.

Glad to be grey. When Grayson Perry was asked to pick works for a new show, he found himself strangely drawn to the drab, domestic art of postwar Britain. Why?

I look back to only a quarter of a century ago, when I left art college, and I see contemporary art was a grim, socialist rather than popular, business.

When the arts council collection asked me to select a touring exhibition of works from their holdings, I had the shrill voice of 21st-century contemporary art ringing in my ears. I was also aware of the remnants of hostility to fine art from Daily Mail Britain, who still see art as an elitist con. As I trawled through the Arts Council's catalogues, which illustrate around 7,500 pieces, I found myself drawn to art from the earlier part of the collection; works that could be characterised as subtle, sensitive, lyrical and quiet.

I found the article interesting because he is my age and from a similar art school background, growing up in a village I rarely visited exhibitions I thought the local galleries in Leeds and York very dry with little touring exhibitions to see. Anthony D'Offay has acknowledged this dearth of visual opportunities and has donated much of his collection to tour across Britain. I cannot say I lacked visual nourishment growing up, coming from a family who enjoyed art via books and prints plus the occasional visit to the Tate I think my visual literacy was shaped as much by my environment as any exposure to the 'Arts' and for this I am grateful because although the Internet is a wonderful vehicle for accessing the wider world, in many ways I feel it stops children from getting out there and just looking and feeling.
I am currently really struggling to educate my A' Level photography class, they have become so used to logging on and gazing at a screen it is a real effort to get them outside, they spend most of their time making horrible pastiche copies of other photographers work and seem unable to find their own way. A year in pictures has mentioned this problem too. the way young people feel the need to cling to what they know rather than looking for their own personal response. I feel lucky that I enjoy what I see through the lens, I prefer to snap away for hours rather than surf the web and try as I might to copy/ emulate other photographers personal style, it does not feel right and I make my own viewpoints instead.
So back to the exhibition, I have never been to this gallery but would really like to so hopefully this should spur me on. Other new/want to see galleries include the Shirley Sherwood gallery at Kew Gardens and Pallant House in Chichester.
Finally how lovely to sit and curate an exhibition for 7,500 pieces I think I would be in heaven and best of all you get to slip in a couple of your own pieces!

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