The curator at the Henry Moore Institute gasped in horror and his voice went up to a falsetto as he rushed to prize my daughter off the block in the middle of the room (a sculpture, which looked like a block of concrete painted pink), which she had rushed towards as we entered the gallery. The reception was no less cool elsewhere at the Institute, so we hastily went next door to Leeds Art Gallery, where thankfully no one gave my five-year-old a frosty look for enjoying the art experience.

However, the embarrassment at the Henry Moore Institute has clarified my understanding of how I appreciate art and what indeed it is for me. It short, it needs to be a kinesthetic experience (hence, I garden and cook), if possible. Thus, I can understand my child wanting to enjoy the sculpture by touching it and feel therefore that the Henry Moore Institute has got something wrong: putting children off art.

On the other hand, the art gallery was not only friendly (with anything that sticky fingers might be inclined to touch either in a glass case or too high to reach) but they even had a room dedicated to encouraging them. Here is floor space to do collective drawing, which I can imagine many adults enjoying, too:

So, what does ‘art’ mean to you?

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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14 Responses to What does ‘art’ mean to you?

  1. Ah your poor daughter, I hope she wasnt too traumatised by being thrown off the exciting looking pink concrete thingy! I think that is a perfectly natural reaction. I like to be able to interact with some exhibits, it doesn’t have to be all of them but it is so important for a gallery to be all inclusive and to encourage children’s interest. Good for you for finding a good alternative! I’ve never been to Leeds…one day.

    • There are some good galleries your side of the Pennines as well! Leeds is worth a visit, though I wouldn’t do it just for the art, unless you go to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which is truly brilliant 🙂
      And there you can touch the exhibits!

      • I’ve read about the sculpture park but have yet to go. I’ll make an effort! I like the galleries in Manchester, the Manchester City Art Gallery is very child friendly with activities, dress ups, exhibit your own drawing, etc. I went with a friend and her kids and they loved it. That’s the idea!

  2. I think the colouring floor pad looks much more stimulating anyway. My kids would love it.

    • There was also a huge blackboard round the corner from that drawing pad on the floor and they have art education rooms upstairs, which I think are free – my daughter went to one last week with her playscheme. I’m sure your kids would love this room 🙂

  3. Is this the same place where the Moore’s are out in a garden? I remember visiting one, many moons ago in Yorkshire.
    anyway, hmmm art, I think there is art for all people and all ocaisions. When we went to the Olympic Park I loved seeing a great piece – huge letters that spelt RUN , that are mirrored – the fun was watching how people interacted, from climbing on them, peering under them, leaning, touching. There was a lot of laughter which was special to hear and see. I’m all for interaction – touch and feel is such an important part of our lives.

  4. The Moores you refer to were probably at Yorkshire Sculpture Park:
    Anyway, the Olympic Park sounds like my kind of place 🙂

  5. pzdesigns says:

    I agree that art galleries should do more to make their spaces more inviting (and interactive)- it’s nice to see the drawing pad on the floor and hope more galleries follow suit! ^_^

  6. Art means anything creative and used to be synonymous with craft. I did a day with an artist group with the paper on the floor and a lot of non artists drawing. It was cut and displayed contiguously on the walls afterward. Art is fun! At some point art got cooped by professionals… like music. When the making of art and music is part of our soul. Give her paint and let her go.0

    • Helen says:

      Thank you for your comment. It’s nice to see that posts I wrote way back are still being read.

      Anyway, I think we are all artists. People do not perhaps realise what they are doing might constitute art but it is all around us – and most of it has not come from the hand of a professional 🙂

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