I was in Oxford yesterday and happened upon a sale at The Ruskin School of Art. I had to drag my eldest in – she really wasn’t remotely intrigued – and once there, we proceeded to browse intently this offering of energetic, creative youth.
I bought the artwork shown here. It resonated, probably way more than it should have done given that I’m ancient and the artist a mere babe… 😉
The artist is: http://www.jessicaheywood.com and I liked a lot of her stuff at the exhibition. This one in particular. She also writes painful but often beautiful and raw poetry.
On the way down to Oxford – a 2 hour drive – daughter and I had waxed lyrical on feminism, politics, humanity, life… the usual fare, we have a healthy regular line in conversation… and much of what we saw adorning the walls of the Ruskin School seemed – to me – to echo our conversation, and indeed many other conversations we’ve had.
Alas, no. My daughter was quietly horrified at what she saw as (and I paraphrase here) “teenaged doodles, not art”. When I suggested we’d finished browsing and should be heading back, her relief came in a hissed “yes, let’s go!”
For me, the exhibition/sale showed more of the same youthful energy and passionate belief I see, feel and hear each time we check out another university. The energy in these places is almost palpable, certainly to one as old (!) and long-toothed as I. So what we saw at Ruskin wasn’t ‘art’ because of its skill in recognised & approved techniques, or even in originality, or indeed execution (a lot of it was sketchbook stuff), but it was art to me because of its passion and intent. For my daughter, though, it was an awful and uncontrolled outpouring of her generation’s angst – everything bad she’s ever seen on Tumblr or college toilet walls, stuff you might think but certainly don’t ‘put out there’.
Interesting. She and I may appear to agree largely on political and sociological issues and ideals, but clearly we’re approaching our view of Life from two very different angles. I’ve been mesmerised by our trips to universities – simultaneously admiring, adoring and thrilling to all these marvellous young folk embarking on their adult lives… whilst a tiny (but significant!) part of me envies them their vast choice… they have *everything* ahead! Whereas my daughter… well, this is her generation – she’s grown with them in life and all over social media and she’s just not as impressed as I am with their stance(s).
I bought another ‘artwork’ recently… a piece of hand-made paper I’ve framed and put on my bedroom wall. I love it. That’s why I call it art.
But what really is art? The experience with my daughter shows me that it can – and cannot – be anything, depending on who’s assessing.
She and I listened to a lot of (my) music on the drive to and from Oxford – and I’m always warmed when she asks “who’s this?” and then Googles it… but there’s a lot she must be quietly dismissing and, again, what resonates with me as a passionate or otherwise appealing piece, can – and does – leave her cold.
We did, once more, find agreement on certain musical pieces, though – and this one in particular:
… which, it could be said, is also a work of art.