Sunday, 3 July 2016

Can Art be Accessible?

The first thing you notice when you walk into a gallery is usually the sound of your own footsteps, the silence is enough to make anyones heart rate increase, hushed conversations about the high brow nature of work on display makes your hands begin to sweat, the mention of small nuances in the art makes you want to scream "it's just a rather dull painting!". Of course the entire mechanism of galleries are designed to be intimidating and high brow because in reality our normal pricing structure of materials + labour don't apply in this world. This world is dictated by setting and tone far more than effort and physical stature. 

I've met artists who command healthy fees for their work, well beyond the realms of any normal pricing structure and i've met artists who under value their time as to make working in mcdonalds seem an attractive career choice, however emotionally i've been delighted more by scribbles on service station toilet walls than to their art. There in lies the problem with art and culture. Is high end art just another form of currency, to be traded by rich ogilarchs as a way of dodging annoying fluctuations in interest rates and currency values? 

My first encounter with street art was when I was a child and someone had written free scotland on the side of an abandoned shed near the border with England, it amused me that someone had done it and more so that it wasn't even very well written. Free Scotland from what? Anyways the thing that intrigued me the most about this street art is the fact it was not done for profit (unless of course it was a subliminal message from Irn Bru to make you feel more Scottish and thus inclined to purchase their product) it was just done to provoke emotion. Art does that, often the emotion isn't pleasant, like those drawings of the oddly shapen nudes you see in museums, I mean it's often difficult to tell if they are meant to be some old age porn or just really self satisfying displays of power. I tend to avoid any art literature, because I hate to be told too much about the art i'm looking at, I don't care what the artist meant I like to put my own meaning on it. I like the emotion to come from me and not from the words of someone else.

So the beauty for me of street art is that it smacks you in the face, it says hey I'm here to either delight or annoy you, I might even surprise you and give you some social message. But the mere mention of Street art has made you conjure up thoughts of probably banksy or the local kid that likes to tag all those motorway underpasses you drive on your overly long commute to work. But street art is in essence any art that is freely accessivle in a public space, statues, stone stacking, chalking, murals, even photography. 

Events like the Dunbar Street Art Trail are not only seeking to invite those around to visit and enjoy art, they are seeking to garner an emotional connection with people and art, that connection can prove invaluable when it comes to things like social cohesion and community pride.  People feel part of something that gives them emotion, think of how attached people get to old buildings in their neighbourhood, not because they are functionally great but because they like them aesthetically and want to continue to enjoy that feeling of seeing them everyday and thinking oh thats got lovely curves. You see the equaliser in all things street art is the fact you can have studied all your life all aspects of art and your verdict on a mural in it's 16 paragraphs and in depth study of what the artist is trying to convey is just as valuable as the wee guy who stands next to you and goes "That yellow makes it look like someones had a pish right down the middle"