What is art?

Gino Attwood, work from the Loughborough Fine Art Degree Show 2011

Having been to the Loughborough graduate Art & Design show again this year I am forced to ask myself: What is art? I’m persuaded that it isn’t enough to like an exhibit, nor to admire the skill.  ‘It has to surprise you’ says my young artist friend, Dave. Well lots of things surprise me but not in a good way.  Fine Art is intriguing.  Is Beauty in the eye of the beholder or is it learned?  When I first went to Paris aged 19, I started to appreciate the Impressionists when my Art A’ level friend explained what they were trying to achieve.  Perhaps it’s the same here.  Well sometimes. 

One guy, Richard Sellears, had put his footprint on the wall and written a piece explaining why he couldn’t work to the university’s brief.  Dave and his mates think this is a courageous act.  I think the artist is cocking a snook at the university, parents and the local community.  What has the been doing for the last three years?  And when everyone else has tried to display their talent why has he opted out? Less courage, more inertia.  There were the usual ‘unmade bed’ a la Tracy Emin type installations.  Leaves you wondering if the crisp packets and empty cans are remnants of the open evening or part of the art.  Political paintings of Blair, Thatcher, Gaddafi.  Unoriginal.  Representations of Christianity offensive.  (An easy target.  They would get lambasted if it were Mohammed).  Photos of industrial landscapes.  Boring.  Women in stages of undress.  Photographed by men.  Suspicious.  Having visited now for a few years I recognise similar themes.  Some things that impressed me leave me cold. But I do love Textiles! Vibrant, colourful, crafted … Makes you want to touch it, wear it, sit on it, do it yourself.  Here I go wanting to see skill again.  Must be my age.

Lottie Barber, Loughborough Textiles Graduation Exhibition

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