Make Yourself At Home

Suzanna Gregg, founder of Art High, explores the variety of art found in the home.

 

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We may not believe we have much art in our homes, if any, yet a brief look around will quickly prove otherwise. Think beyond what hangs on the walls, to the objects we use everyday and the décor of the rooms we live in.

 

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Look in the kitchen for example, at the crockery we use everyday. The design – shape, colour, pattern – make a cup beautiful as well as useful.  Do you have a favourite mug? Think about why you like it. Whether you enjoy how it looks, or how it feels in your hands, you are appreciating the art and design applied in its making.

 

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Consider the décor of your home, the walls, floors and soft furnishing. Did you carefully select a combination of colours and patterns which blend well together? In doing so you have actually curated a display to suit your personal taste, creating your own private exhibition.

Are you persuaded? Whether art hangs on the walls or sits in the kitchen cupboard, it is there, present in every home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Look?

Suzanna Gregg, Art High founder, considers different approaches to exploring new places.

New York 2012

Tourist or flaneur; which one are you? (A flanuer, in this context, is one who strolls and looks around them, drinking in their surroundings, with no specific agenda.)

Before we go any further I feel I should identify myself. As a tourist who religiously sought out the top ten attractions wherever I went, I struggled to relax and wander. Following a visit to Granada when my travelling companion took charge of the itinerary, in addition to visiting significant sites, I experienced the delights of the flaneur. I was converted! I make no apology if the following is therefore a little biased.

When visiting a new place the tourist first establishes the sights that must be seen, then purposefully explores them. Alternately the flaneur makes little or no effort to seek out the ‘must-see’, instead simply wandering around the place to see what he can see. Both approaches are worthwhile, yet both additionally present risks.

The tourist chooses those sites which are commonly recognized as significant, for whatever reason, to visit. In so doing she may see and learn much to increase her  understanding of this new place. The flaneur meanwhile, wandering with no particular purpose other than strolling and looking, is free to enjoy the atmosphere and to come upon unexpected delights. While the flaneur risks missing the most significant attractions, the tourist may fail to experience the life, the heart of the place.

Alhambra from below

On a visit to Granada, Spain, for example, the tourist will visit the Alhambra, the cathedral, and maybe a flamenco show, while the flaneur encounters a gypsy, a flamenco guitarist playing in the open air, and the plaza where an orchestra plays and local people dance in their lunch hour. The tourist looks at the story of the city while the flaneur sees it in the here-and-now. Which experience of Granada would you choose, or indeed do we need to choose?

View through window

There are individuals who, due to personality or purpose, choose persistently either tourist or flaneur. For the majority of us however, the two approaches might easily be combined if we are prepared to try something new. Tourists,  yes of course visit those significant sites, while allowing time also to stroll and to drink in your surroundings. Flaneurs, do a little research and choose a significant site to explore in the midst of your wanderings. Whether tourist or flaneur,  by embracing one another’s approach, our experience of any new place may be deeply enriched.

We would love to hear from you, to find out how many tourists and flaneurs are out there, and whether a change in approach has changed the way you look at and experience new places. Leave a comment here, or email us at suzanna@art-high.org, thank you.

Do Look Down

For the first in a series challenging us to open our eyes and explore our surroundings, Art High founder, Suzanna Gregg, discovers the great beauty to be found in the ground we walk on.

 

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They say that in Paris one should always look down in order to avoid the dog mess scattering the pavements. I believe that in Paris or anywhere else, looking down presents benefits far surpassing the avoidance of mess on your shoe.

 

A stroll around the city of Funchal, Madeira, presents a variety of pavements which cannot fail to attract the eye, almost commanding a look down. Great attention has been given to create  a variety of patterns which add interest to a walk through this beautiful city. It is, however, often the ordinary and the familiar, wherever we are, which offer ground worthy of notice. There is form, colour and texture to be found on any road or pathway, in town or country, if it is sought out.

It is easy to take our surroundings for granted, to grow so familiar with them that we fail to notice anything worthy of a second glance. There is form, colour and texture, whatever your taste, to be found on any road or pathway, in town or country, if it is sought out. When was the last time you took pleasure in the pavement on your street, or even noticed it?

 

 

When was the last time you took pleasure in the pavement on your street, or even noticed it? Next time you go for a walk, whether in a new city or in your own locality, keep your eyes down and really look at the ground under your feet; you may be pleasantly surprised by the view.

Art in Public

Art High’s founder, Suzanna Gregg, considers the attraction of public art.

Image result for antony gormley angel of the north

Anthony Gormley’s famous sculpture  Angel of the North is celebrating its 20th birthday today, which has caused me to wonder about public art. The Angel, over the last 20 years, has become a significant landmark and tourist attraction, and  a part of daily life for the local community. Perhaps we all have a local, somewhat smaller version of this enormous sculpture, which represents the area where we live, and has become part of our own lives?

Another of Gormley’s artworks, nearby where I live, has definitely been embraced by the local community. The figures of Another Place are regularly to be seen dressed up, or decorated with found objects from the beach, and there is more. People are to be seen posing for photographs with them, hugging them, and sitting on their shoulders. This, for me, is exactly what public art should be – engaging, interactive, and embraced by the community.

 

So what is it about Another Place or Angel of the North that attracts us? What is it that gives us a sense of place, of belonging, and invites us to interact, to participate? Perhaps the outdoor, public location frees us from the do-not-touch attitude and hushed voices of the art gallery, liberating us to engage with these works as part of our ordinary lives. Due to familiarity, maybe we give ourselves permission to draw close and to literally embrace the works. Whatever the reason public art is for our enjoyment, so get out there, find some where you live, and enjoy it.

We would love to hear from you so please leave us a message, sharing your favourite or new-found public art works with us. Thank you.

 

 

 

Art and Armchairs

Suzanna Gregg considers the relaxing quality of painting, one aspect of art which inspired the founding of Art High.

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Art and Armchairs; do the two belong together? Is art relaxing? Let’s consider the view of an artist.

Henri Matisse discussed the potential of art as a form of relaxation, “a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue”. Clearly Matisse believed in the relaxing quality of art, indeed he specified the nature of art which may provide such relaxation; “an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter”. What form might this art take? What artworks best represent Matisse’s description? Who decides?

It is possible to discover the artworks which promote relaxation, however only one individual holds the power to decide which works provide an armchair for your mind, yourself! It is entirely dependent upon your own personal taste – the colours, forms, themes and narratives – which are relaxing for you. Are you ready to take on the challenge?

Finding appropriate artworks may appear to be a daunting task yet it is easily achievable given a little time, patience, and boldness. You need no prior experience or knowledge for this. When you have some free time visit your local gallery. As you walk into each room do not feel you have to look at everything. Simply be led by whatever works attract you – perhaps the colours, the form, or the subject matter. Draw close and spend some time just looking; engage with the art.

As we explore art in this manner, considering only what attracts and relaxes us, we will begin to identify the works which calm and sooth, which provide that armchair for our minds. You might perhaps wish to learn about the art that attracts you – the style, the artist, the history of the piece – and to seek out more works from that period or artist. Alternately you may be satisfied to revisit your chosen artworks, growing more familiar with them. Either way the key is to take pleasure in the experience. Enjoy!

(We would love to hear about your explorations in art, and to know which works provide your armchair, so please leave a message below, thank you.)