"I could do that..." In My Opinion
Everyone has an opinion, and I believe everyone should be encouraged to share it, it sparks healthy debate.
One of the first discussions I had about art was one that changed my view of the world forever. And I'm reminded of it in the recent discussions about The Glasgow Effect.
My first visit to the TATE was unforgettable and inspiring. Despite growing up in Glasgow I had never really seen art of this scale or had the opportunity to see this amount of varied work in one place. As a 17 year old art student everything was new and exciting, and I didn't have a clue what anything was about. On a class trip to London in first year at GSA (which later inspired the ten30 brand name) we spent a day in the TATE. I remember crossing the Millenium bridge from St Pauls and seeing this mass of red brick, a building of right angles and straight lines with a chimney that beautifully interrupted the grey sky. I was awe struck again going inside, greys and blacks, concrete and steel and the sheer scale of the place was like nothing I'd ever seen.
I wandered the rooms with my classmates, in particular Andy, looking at work, sketching and taking notes. We stopped at a Jackson Pollock piece, we had both seen the work before, small blurry pictures of it in old school books. It was long and narrow, stretching across the wall, the presence of the piece was incredible. We talked about the rich colours, deep textures, accidental patterns and everything else that was going on in the work, when we overheard someone in the group next to us I could do that he said to his partner.
I could do that. Comparing himself to Jackson Pollock, this guy had instantly formed his opinion and that was that. The chap could see no artistic merit in the painting, no technique or skill, it didn't look like anything and it didn't visually represent anything, so it was rubbish. To him, it was art for art's sake, and that was pointless. Andy and I started talking about that. Was the guy's outlook right? Could anyone make work like that? Our immediate response was of course not, but we began to ask ourselves well why not? The idea that this guy's critique on such an influential and important artist could be right was actually enlightening. So what made the Pollock so important? Why did we enjoy it? And why were we not looking at the work of the chap beside us? The answer was innovation. It wasn't a question of whether or not the chap could do it, it was fact that he didn't do it.
My opinion and understanding of art, design and the world had been changed forever. We could all copy anything if we wanted, we can hone our skills in any field and copy what someone else has done before us. But the difficulty comes in innovation. To try something new, push boundaries, develop techniques or processes that others emulate, to be the first to do something or completely change someone's mindset, that is what talent is, that is real creativity.
The Glasgow Effect has raised a lot of questions, brought out a lot of opinions from a lot of people and I have my own opinions (which I'll save for another time) Despite the arguments that the artist is getting too much money, the arguments that the money should be used for food banks or the arguments that this is an example of justification in the belief that art is only for the middle classes, one of the most common comments I've heard centre around the idea of I could do that.
My question to those people is Why didn't you?