Art: How To Understand Things Made To Be Looked At.


Art: How To Understand Things Made To Be Looked At.

Do you sometimes feel daunted by art? Sometimes feel that you’re not sure what you’re meant to see or what it’s meant to mean? Think the ‘experts’ know better?
Then think again; the Art House is always looking for ways to make art more accessible and we’ve teamed up with Mark Beachell (who also teaches our Interior Design and How To Paint courses) to deliver a series of completely down to earth art talks that will demystify the art world. In fact, promises Mark, more than that – they’ll teach you to see things like an artist.
And nor are these stilled classes spent looking at slides – each one starts with an illustrated talk but then bursts out into a discussion about what art and creation and objects of desire mean to you.
In fact this is a series for everyone from people who want to feel they can appreciate art more to those who already enjoy viewing and talking about it.
We talked to Mark about why you should attend:

Art talks. People think they’re stuffy and irrelevant – why aren’t they?

Mark: Art history is indeed often seen as irrelevant, stuffy and elitist but it makes up the day to day world around us. It’s around us in all kinds of forms – not just the obvious paintings or sculptures. Buildings, movies, gardens, products – creative thought permeates everything we experience. I can’t think of any aspect of experience that isn’t touched by art. It’s much much more than history, it’s culture, passion, life, everything.

What are the subjects you’re tackling?

Mark: I pretty much present a crash course in visual culture. There are common ideas and common styles that evolve and get appropriated throughout history. It’s quite straightforward to understand the big ideas that form the big styles like baroque modernity or Art Deco. And then you look around and understand why everything looks the way it does. And I mean everything, even a park with swings and tidy front gardens are really copies of French paintings that sum up the enlightenment!
Modern movements are absolutely amazing – the 19th century saw the rise of artists that were more like rock stars and they impact on us just as relevantly today. Knowing this type of stuff enriches your day to day life.

Is it you doing a talk with slide or is it a group discussion?

Mark: It has a cafe culture feel, it starts as a heavily illustrated talk but people soon chip in. The interaction is really what makes it enjoyable.

You bring in lots of different strands about the stuff you talk about. What sort of stuff can people expect?
Mark: I would put a still from 2001 A Space Odyssey beside a Georgian dining room to show symmetry. Plus I can’t seem to make an art talk that doesn’t have Japanese robots, weird 1950s spaceships or things with tentacles cropping up. It’s far far more than just slides of Turner and Van Gogh ….
I’ve also been known to do a talk with the title: “How the spirit world and the CIA conspired to make Jackson Pollock rich.” I’m after interesting, innovative connections but ones that have real meaning and leave you understanding art not just more confused.
So, do you need to ‘understand’ art to understand the talks?

Mark: I think you just need to be alive.

And do you need to be an artist?

Mark: It’s unclear what an artist is, but, if you do this series of talks, then I think you might find yourself becoming one, it’s a slippery slope.

What’s the first piece of art that mattered to you and why?

Mark: In the Graves gallery there is a vivid hyper- realistic landscape. Etna from Taormina by John Brett – 1930s; a turquoise sea, Roman theatre and a snow capped volcano! As a child I promised myself that when I grew up I’d go there, swim and then climb the volcano. And I did.
I underestimated the scale, a lot.

Top tip: never park a white Audi under an erupting volcano.

At the end of the talks what do you want people to leave knowing or being able to do that they probably couldn’t at the beginning?

Mark: Seeing everything, knowing how to read the meaning built into anything anyone ever made.
And the world suddenly different – to start seeing things like artists do. It’s not for the faint hearted but it is for the brave…..

The talks run from 7th June to 12th July. More details here.

(Trips to the Millennium Gallery will never be the same again ….)