Monday, 26 April 2010

Why I'm not an artist

Last week, I went to some art galleries in Leeds. I've never been before, but my husband had suggested we take the day off and it seemed a "day off" kind of thing to do.

I say art galleries because...well Leeds is an odd place. For a start, there's about four different galleries all linked to each other, so I've no idea what was in where and we started in the Henry Moore Institute and ended up in the "Craft and Design Gallery" (the shop).

I'm purposely not looking anything up while I write this, so you get an idea of how I experience art. So, according to me, some of the things we saw included an exhibition about art students, some nice pots and a ceramic crab which I liked, an exhibition about typography or the space between text or something (I didn't really "get" that one), a funky-ass mobile made of old chair legs, and loads of handmade stuff which I loved (in the shop).

Some of it I loved, some I thought was rubbish. Some had me muttering "my dog can do art better than that", some of it I thought was genius. There were some (in particular a family tree diagram of a tree) I thought were brilliant but Rob (my husband) didn't like. Some of it I hated, but "got", some of it I didn't understand at all. I dallied over some parts, Rob over others (although it has to be said I dallied most in the shop).

It really showed me how subjective art is. I think the flowing design of the art galleries, whilst scarily confusing ("Where are we? Find a window!") is really useful, as we probably wouldn't have gone to see half the stuff we ended up seeing because we kept wandering into it (although it would've been nice to know this was the case when we started, and a clear 'Start' would be nice if you want to meander as we missed the Ice Age exhibition and I'll have to go back for that). It showed me that I don't just like pretty stuff, or stuff that I can easily understand. It reminded me of when I used to go to art galleries and thought "I could do that".

But I still wouldn't call myself an artist. You might note that I rarely call my cranes an installation, but rather a project or an event. I'm uncomfortable with these words - Artist and Installation. As we were walking round, I was comparing my Light Night project with the work displayed, and I kept asking myself if mine was as good. For some, yes I really do think it is. But I'm not an artist. To me, an artist is someone who does art "proper". Who gets paid for it, who quite possibly does it for a living. I'm a dabbler. I've no pretensions that I'm going to win the Turner Prize, and I don't expect Saatchi to be knocking at my door; but I'm more than an observer. I'm dipping a toe into a world I've little comprehension of, and I often feel really really out of my depth, but I'm still trying.

So what do you call someone who's more than an art appreciative, but less than an artist? I've decided that, for me at least, I like the word creative as a noun. I'm a Creative. It's more often used for people in advertising and such, and I'll probably annoy everyone in the art world for using it because it's not proper and such, but for me, it works. I'm happy to be a Creative, and I'm happy to have my Project.


  1. One day I'm going to make an installation (but not yet, because the one I'm going to make is expensive so I need to save up!). And when I do, I will call myself an artist, definitely. Even if other people might not agree! :)

  2. gosh you are soo good at that , I think you are aborn critic. i like your style1