Talk from Chris Hough on ways of looking at pictures. We were then asked to look at four current artists in groups and use a framework to comment on them. It was a very useful exercise – the first time I had done anything like that related to art. My group had Marlene Dumas. I could say that none of us particularly liked her work – but what I realised, as with what I’d said about Anselm Kiefer, was that that sort of isn’t really the point. Also I realised that by looking and evaluating you could change what you had ‘thought’ or rather reacted to initially.
What it reminded me of were sessions at the Centre for Literacy when we asked teachers to discuss a book written for children that was perceived by them as ‘difficult’ in terms of subject matter, use of language or setting. Many teachers for example voiced strong antipathy about David Almond’s book Skellig for example – they didn’t like the darkness of the characters, the north east setting, his use of language – not conforming to current government expectations (!) about sentence structure, the fact that he used the occasional swear word.
I used to feel impatient that some teachers could only see reading as something pleasant or enjoyable in a very conventional sense.
To overcome this we used frameworks for thinking, which allowed teachers to share ideas. Many changed their minds about books, found it liberating. Both the sharing and the ways of looking.
The same thing happened to me this week.
So, I’m going to review over the weekend what I said about the Kiefer and von Rydingsgard exhibitions.