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A house consisting of three teenage girls, two dogs and a self-acclaimed DIY expert doesn’t create the cleanest of environments, and so some years ago my parents decided to hire a cleaner. Recently however, while the workmen, who create more mess than the children, had been re-doing the garage roof my parents began to notice that despite having a cleaner, the house didn’t appear to be getting any tidier. Granted the carpets were vacuumed and the surfaces dusted but there was still a considerable amount of rubbish round the house. When confronted about this the cleaner confessed that she hadn’t been cleaning it away as she feared when she cleared up what appeared to be ‘rubbish’ she would in fact be throwing away art work.
My mother is an art teacher, who also exhibits her own work, and both my sisters study art at school so the house is often awash with things being drawn, sculpted and photographed. Not long ago the cleaner found a pile of leaves on the dining room table and promptly put them outside to be later swept away. Bad move. That was part of Lucy’s GCSE project. When the workmen decided to move the smashed windows propped up against the back of the house there was trouble; that was Mum’s latest exhibition piece. This got me thinking about the all too common question, is modern art a load of rubbish?
I’ve been dragged around enough art galleries to know that my answer should most definitely be no but I’m sure it isn’t that simple, and maybe that’s just it, it all depends on what we know. I have spent the past 20 years of my life with art round every corner and so I know generalising and saying all modern art is rubbish really isn’t true at all but to those of us who haven’t visited more art galleries than clothing stores, modern art really can come across as garbage. If I pick up a rotting piece of wood, wrap some ripped fabric round it and leave it outside my house I probably wouldn’t be crowned the modern Picasso, but if I exhibited it in an art gallery with a name like ‘Hollow and Torn’ I could earn hundreds of pounds. Where’s the sense in that?
If I had to answer the question, is modern art a load of rubbish? I’d tell you art is about interpretation. That sounds like the easy way out of a difficult question but hear me out. Modern art is exhibited in galleries for a reason; you have to choose to see it and most of the people who venture round art galleries have the kind of imagination that will turn a piece of wood wrapped in fabric into a metaphor for the restrictions life gives us, making us wooden and unfeeling.
So if you don’t think modern art is for you, don’t go to any art galleries because you’ll probably spend half your time there cleaning up.