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writing about art

Tom dinning

Registrant*
I’ve had the opportunity, thanks to COVID 19, to enrol in a normally residential course from the National Gallery of Victoria.
Being on line isn’t quite as intimate but it’s the next best thing.

592C1AF0-D47A-4F3E-B5C3-377B992CC570.jpeg

Naturally I chose to write about a photograph during my first week.

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Bruised peaches
2018
from the Still Life Studio series 2018

I’ll keep you up to date with my progress.
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
Gee Tom with your impeccable writing skills I thought you would be teaching courses on this subject.
I can never tell if you’re taking the piss or being serious, James.

there’s always different approaches and ideas to be open to and learn from. That’s what makes a good teacher.
Thanks for the complement (I’ll take is that) but I’d hardly describe my writing skills as ‘impeccable’.
Tawdry at their best, but never obtrusive.

this week I learned it is is possible to write about art without even mentioning the art work in question.
 

James Lemon

Well-known member
I can never tell if you’re taking the piss or being serious, James.

there’s always different approaches and ideas to be open to and learn from. That’s what makes a good teacher.
Thanks for the complement (I’ll take is that) but I’d hardly describe my writing skills as ‘impeccable’.
Tawdry at their best, but never obtrusive.

this week I learned it is is possible to write about art without even mentioning the art work in question.
I do admire your skills but I am skeptical of anything labeled as art.
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
James.



“... skeptical of anything labelled as art”.



Many people are, James. I often wonder why. I don’t remember any time in my life when that was the case for me. That probably has a lot to do with my experiences more than my art knowledge and expertise.



I understand that words such as ‘art’, are bandied around, seemingly indiscriminately. This may be for good reason. Without going into the semantics of definition and usage, art can be many things to many people. There are those that create it, save it, invest in it, display it, sell it, look at it, avoid it and even burn it (metaphorically speaking in the game of Buy Steal, Burn).

Yet on any of these occasions individuals can gain insight. The artist, the owner, the person standing next to you and especially you can glean much from looking and listening without prejudice.

“I have never looked at it quite like that before” is one of my favourite thoughts when listening to others.

On a personal level (necessarily being the only manner in which anyone can interpret, feel about or for, want to buy, steal or burn a work of art) we will usually listen to the voices inside our own head. At varying levels of intensity we will take note of those voices and consider a response.

With skepticism as a response we are internalising our lack of understanding and translating that into worthiness, importance, relevance, truth and fact.

In other words, we decide, based on our own thoughts (which we assume are valuable, correct and worthy of expression) that the object in question is not art, bad art, a worthless piece of shit, or, at the very least, meaningless and not worthy of our time. (Or as I overheard in the Rijksmuseum some years back that a particular Rembrandt was “too dark and gloomy to hang in my house”).



This approach is none of my business, you might say. Well, it is to some extent.

I am an educator by profession, choice and passion ( more like annoyance). I also hold a legacy to those who went before me and an obligation to carry forward what I have learnt.



Art communicates. We don’t always get the message; or want to. Art provokes thought. We don’t always listen to our own voice. Art is a challenge to each of us. We don’t always want that challenge.



The truth is Art exists. Our challenge is to accept that and learn from it; about ourself, the artist, our societies, our past, our human nature.



Being skeptical is part of that nature. So is discovering new things. You can do both.
 

Tom dinning

Registrant*
Here’s my response to the photograph.

BRUISED PEACHES

The last of the summer fruit

Fallen, bruised, warming in the morning sun.

Gathered thoughtfully, nestled fondly in her arms

Delicate parts entangled as one

Coddled as a child against her aching breasts.

For fear of falling once again.

She moves as a mourner through a charnel house

Shawled in silver white against diaphanous skin

Distant thoughts enclosed behind blinded sight.

And lips still holding colour of a final kiss.



‘Leave her be’ I am told. ‘Hold out on your dispense’

Nothing I can say will console nor recompense.

I am helpless in her plight. I have my own to bare.

Her rituals are hers alone, leaving nothing to condone.

Her metaphors for life and death give comfort and compose.

Today she will pause to meld the flesh of fruit

With sugar, spice and the tears of yesterday.

Tomorrow we will share her pain with us

Then wait for another summer sun, and new fruit to bare.
 
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