Thursday, 5 May 2011
A while ago I was out in the centre of Leeds with my wife. We had finished shopping and were booked into a restaurant but we had a couple of hours to kill.
So we decided to spend these in the City Art Gallery.
It was free of charge and open to all so we thought an injection of culture would do us some good.
As we entered the gallery we walked past the reception desk and into a white room. I knew that there had been some building work done on the gallery recently and at first I thought that the room must have been unfinished as the builders had left some stuff behind.
Then I noticed that these items had little cards on the wall next to them with the names of pieces and the artist written on. This was in fact the exhibition.
Amongst the masterpieces on display was a load of scrunched up sellotape hanging from the ceiling called 'Cloud', a broom handle wrapped in tinfoil and leant against the wall, some twigs in a tripod shape with water filled balloons hanging off them and a bolt sticking out of the wall wrapped in coloured ribons.
Oh, and a Lidl catalogue with the middle cut out leaving only the binding and a one centimetre border.
In every room of the gallery there stood a member of staff with a walkie talkie making sure that we obeyed the signs that warned us against touching the exhibits. I didn't see how touching any of these would make the slightest bit of difference.
Now I'm not going to start saying that I think all modern art is rubbish. Art is being created all of the time and much of it is beautiful, but when I see something that looks like it took ten minutes to knock together then I don't see the point.
There seems to be an argument that says art is in the eye of the beholder and reading meaning into something that may not be apparent to others justifies the title of art.
By this rationale I could go to my local builders yard, pick up a breeze block and state that it represents 'The Despair of the Penal System'. Hey presto, instant art.
Art should be something that takes effort to create and provokes an emotional response in those who experience it and not just feelings of puzzlement and annoyance.
Calling something art might make it art but not necessarily good art.
But then I never went to university so what do I know.