I love looking at at paintings. I enjoy looking at the colours, how the artist has used the paint, the symmetries of compositions, and the impact of the whole thing brings me joy. Pragmatist though I am however, I always feel a twinge of guilt. Shouldn’t I be doing something more useful with my time than swanning around art galleries or messing around with paint? I am therefore indebted to an article I came across recently from Jane Norman at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
We are all pretty sophisticated when it comes to moving pictures. The speed with which we can follow and interpret them has been vastly increased due to film and television becoming a part of our daily lives. But what about the kind of static images you would see in a gallery? We are not so good at taking our time to look really at one image. According to her article Jane Norman believes that
Having learned to think in words most of us must be re-educated to think in shapes and colors and space.
She goes on to explain that the proportions of simple shapes like rectangles can have a great impact on our environment, through architecture for example – something we are acutely aware of in Christchurch at the moment.
Taking note of how our environment is constructed and learning to really look at things can alter the way we relate to what is around us. Or, as the Buddhists would put it, allow us to be more mindful or present – something they believe increases our ability to fully experience the world. Looking at art therefore can be viewed as a sort of therapy for the Rushing Woman’s Syndrome and as such can be indulged in guilt free.
If this is what looking at art can do for us, how to begin? Well it just so happens that the library has some great books for both children and adults which can greatly improve anyone’s ability to get more from art. So get to it folks. As we create a new city being all tuned in can only help you look critically at what is to come.