One of my favorite TV shows as a kid and teenager growing was ‘Art Attack’ hosted by Neil Buchanan. For those of a certain age Art Attack was the art show to go to for inspiration in the 1990s and early 2000’s. It’s sufficient enough to say that Art Attack (and being brought to museums at an early age) is the reason I studied art at University and work for museums. This blog post talks about my love of art and museums and how they are essentially one of my ‘happy places.’
When I’m stressed out over not getting a job or not feeling great I make it a priority to visit a museum, country house or forest park to let myself de-stress and collect my thoughts. Looking at paintings, sculpture, dress and other museum objects is very therapeutic for me and when I visit an amazing museum it re-inspires as to why I want to work in museums in the first place. Mainly to share my love of history with others and preserve history for future generations!
I love nothing more than strolling through gallery after gallery of beautiful paintings of flowers, people, landscapes and tropical scenes. I love, love, love Impressionism and Edgar Degas is my favorite painter. Ever. I’ve been known to walk up five flights of stairs in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris just to see his Ballet Rehearsal on Stage, 1874. Utter perfection.
When I look at really good art, and really good art differs for everyone, I can feel my stress levels go down and my breathing return to normal. There is something about the escapism of loosing yourself in a painting or in a museum for a couple of hours before returning to the real world of stress, jobs and money.
Though you might think working for museums cools my ardor for them when I visit museums abroad or at home, but it doesn’t. It only further ignites my passion and re-instils why I chose this career path over other career paths. It also gives me faith in humanity that even at our darkest hour we have always perceived to destroy art. As art is the pinnacle of a society and if you can never destroy art you can never destroy any society.
Looking at Impressionist art and other types of art is also a method of self-care for me as someone who suffers regularly from anxiety looking art quells my anxiety and brings me back down to earth. Though I’m quite selective in what I do like to look at and really don’t like a lot of modern art because I like to know what I’m looking at when I view a painting. My favorite movements are probably Impressionism, Surrealism and Figurative Art by artists like David Hockney and Lucien Freud.
Whereas a lot of people just see ‘boring old portraits’ I see an opportunity to unlock a story of an unknown Victorian lady or an 18th century scene. Who where these people? What did she do in order to have her portrait painted? What did this city feel, smell and look like when that portrait was painted?
All these hypothetical questions float about my head when I look at art or visit museums. In essence, I feel like I’m a detective (and we both know I love detective fiction) trying to unlock these hidden histories both as a consumer of art and someone who works for museums and art galleries. I am essentially a ‘keeper of stories’ and it’s my job to tell these stories and preserve them for future ‘keepers’ who just simply want to view art or work in museums!