Writing About Art

Entry by: Olivia

5th June 2015
Write about art ….
The daily life of a journalist is, to my mind, that of over indulgent word exploration. One of endless time to consider the world and write fluently about what you find and how you find it.
Probably, by now, dear reader, you are either bored or cross about my ridiculous assumptions.
You are springing to your own defence, composing ‘Dear Sir’ type diatribes, telling me that journalism is cut throat, hard work and very tightly time controlled. Telling me that writing a balanced piece about something that, quite frankly, is a mystery to you requires a great deal of skill. ‘You can’t just make it up like you do, you know, with all your twee stories and happy endings.’
I tried to consider myself told.
I thought about my recent trip to the art gallery. Now, don’t get me wrong, I like art as much as the next person, but I know what I like and it isn’t the rubbish I saw on that day. Maybe I shouldn’t have pretended that I was a journalist running a story on her gallery but I couldn’t resist it. The owner was tight and bright and ultra efficient, gushing lovingly over everyone.
She looked at me like some vermin when I produced my small notebook and recorder. I asked her why she spent her life with static works of art, to which she replied that the words on my page were hardly humming along.
‘I want to write about art’ I said lamely. ‘Help me to understand what is happening in these pictures and therefore what brings people into your gallery. ‘
She paused, her shoulders and her ears at last parted company and she looked at me for the first time. ‘How do you write about art young lady, if you have to ask me that question? Art drives itself, art explains itself, you don’t need to write about it, that’s like doing a sketch of a picture – you are just duplicating things. Art has its own voice, its own smell; it has a feel to it. None of that can be put into words. There are no words to describe art. ‘
‘So, I am wasting my time? What shall I tell my readers?’ ‘Simply tell them to come and see the exhibition for themselves. Tell them to look at the wonder that is here, capture it, buy it and take it home with them. Tell them to find a place to show it off, somewhere that it will be seen often, where it can be seen and interpreted, criticised and admired. Art is something to come home to. Its there when you are not, like an obedient dog, it lies in wait for you, ready to greet you each day afresh, displaying its perfection to you every time you look at it.’
‘Where’ I wondered, ’did all these words come from? ‘ .She didn’t look as if she had a grain of free passion in her but that just shows that the look of something isn’t everything. Its how it impacts on you that matters. I felt the spell she was casting, the weave of the picture, the weft of the sculpture. I felt how beauty can be found in the most unexpected of meetings.

Somewhere in her lecture I felt something I have never felt before. A connection, a song, a shared breath. In my struggle to write, to articulate in words that for which there were no words, I had the experience but lost the meaning.
Showing an interest more and then down came her wrapped around defense. Her face relaxed, her grace shone through and I could really see her.
We drifted leisurely though an exhibition and I stole many glances of her. We read some description cards but she was right, not all made sense and those that didn’t she was no longer bothered about. Words couldn’t express my feeling and I didn’t have the vocabulary to write about everything in that exhibition.
I just knew which part of the exhibition I needed at home, which piece was going to be my comfort, which magnificent icon was what I was searching for. I turned to look straight at her and could see into her soul, no words were necessary, I couldn’t describe it but together we can greet each day afresh.