From time to time I haul myself off to the Christchurch Art Gallery, because I know nothing about art. It mostly confuses me, apart from those art works that depict what I know and understand from the real world. Even with that, don’t ask me to discern between ‘good’ art and ‘bad’ art, because I wouldn’t have a clue. I have to trust the art gallery’s curator on that one, and that job in itself both fascinates and mystifies me – i.e. the world of curating art works. In fact the whole art world is foreign country to me, and that’s why I haul myself off to the art gallery from to time. It puts cracks in the bubble of my everyday life, which I refer to as ‘positive discomfort’.
The Christchurch Art Gallery was closed for nearly five years for repairs and re-strengthening after the 2011 earthquakes. At the time, however, it was one of the few buildings in the city considered safe enough for the civil defence to use as emergency headquarters, as it was originally built with seismic activity in mind. With the Alpine fault also predicted to bust apart sometime in the not too distant future, it’s nice to know that buildings are safe. The thought of another big earthquake doesn’t exactly fill me with joy, but at least we know how to ‘do’ earthquakes now. Not that they’ll ever not be wild and scary, but the knowledge gained from the almost two years of ongoing shakes will always be there. Mostly what I hope for is that this bloody coronavirus is sorted by then, so we can get help from overseas again if we need it.
Anyway, on this particular visit to the art gallery, the earth was well-behaved, and I arrived in time to join a free tour with another couple of a similar age to me. I admit that I did hesitate for a nanosecond, though, when I heard that it took around 45 minutes, which was apparently a quick tour. Forty-five minutes of listening to art waffle felt like it might get dangerously to boredom overload. However, I womaned up and carried on.
And it was fascinating! I was captivated by the stories behind the artworks right from the start. I was like chatter chatter chatter, question question question the whole time. The guide kept looking at her watch, and I had to shut myself up more than once so we could move on the next item, and stick to the schedule. I had visions of me being like my bro and his wife and their (plonker) wine buff friends talking about wine, whom I mercilessly take the piss out of – mainly behind their backs.
I’m not a very visual person, so I normally just scan the art gallery and I’m done. But once there were stories to hear, and someone to point out engaging details in the art, I was all ears and eyes. I’m not sure what to make of this new me, but I won’t be telling my bro and his wife about her, that’s for sure. At least not for a while. That’s if there is even anything to tell, because once the guide finished the tour and left us to it, I couldn’t maintain the interest on my own.
However, the stories have stuck with me. They’ve changed my usual “wtf is that?” observations of art into “wow – imagine having that kind of imagination and being able to create something out of it”. I do have some appreciation, though, of how hard it is to get novel ideas out of one’s head and into the material world, whether it’s by the avenue of the written word or physical items, so this tour did build on that. Even the truly shite art still has to be dragged out of the artist’s head and made real.
Where this will take me, I don’t know. For the moment, however, it has served its purpose of putting cracks in the bubble of my everyday life. And I definitely got some added value to my ‘positive discomfort’ this time round, as well 🙂