I spent an enjoyable few hours at Ilminster Arts Centre (where I currently have a solo exhibition), in my ‘artist-in-lurking’ capacity. The exhibition is stewarded and I don’t have to be there at all, but I feel it does no harm to spend some time there on hand to talk to people should they wish to. On occasion the mere being there and talking to people has led to sales which I am sure would not have happened without the human connection. People often like to how how it’s done, sometimes even why it’s done (a more difficult question).
Which is why I was hanging around the stewards desk this morning when a lady marched up to the steward on duty and said she wished to complain about the artwork. I assume she didn’t know that it was my artwork, and it was on the tip of my tongue to ask if she would like to complain to the artist in person, but (a rare event) I decided to keep my mouth shut and just watch.
The artwork, according to said lady, was not suitable for a café. Some of the rest of it was ‘all right’ but not those drawings of naked people in the café. There were children around.
Ah… this would be the café in the art gallery: there are plenty of cafés not in art galleries. But I didn’t point that out. The steward politely offered apologies for any offence caused and said he would pass on the comments and she went back to her lunch, or whatever it was, in the café, next to the nude pictures.
Under a minute later she was back with a point that she had obviously forgotten to make:
“Because, I work in child protection, so I do know…” were her approximate words.
I am not quite sure what it was that she knew. That abusive parents take their vulnerable children to art galleries and buy them lunch while making them look at nude studies of the human body, presumably.
Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion, of course, and yes, well they were drawings of naked people where people were eating lunch, but they were only naked, they were not even getting up to anything (as the characters in my other paintings frequently do). A little bit of a stir is also no bad thing for a gallery: people may come and have a look, they may even chose to stay for lunch whilst being offended by the drawings, maybe they will even tell their friends. As publicity goes, it’s probably not a bad thing.
But I did ponder this issue as I had lunch in said café. And while I was pondering, I became aware that on the table opposite me, occupied by a couple with a gaggle of children, there was a man explain to a young lad why it was that a person would draw naked people. Paraphrasing, he said that it was so that the artist learnt what shape people were, and how long their legs might be, for instance, in comparison to the rest of them, and how big their heads might be, so that when there were no naked people present, the artist could still draw convincing people-shaped people. Well said that man. I don’t know how old the lad was, but his sister was 9. I know this because she wrote it when she signed my guestbook and said that she liked the fairies.
The photo is me with some of the offending drawings – I wish I had had a camera today and could have taken a photo of the whole wall, with the café and without my face in it, but – not being an owner of a fancy-pants iphone thingy – I never seem to have even a basic sort of camera when I need one. These and more can still be seen at Ilminster Arts Centre until 31st August. I’ll be there for the next two Saturdays as well, between about 11am and 2pm. For all the details have a look at this previous post, and do feel free to come and complain.