Not So Pretentious
Bonjour Mon Amie!
I hope you’re well and having a lovely week so far! I’ve had a wonderfully diverse week with so much knitting, lots of orders, and a trip to the museum yesterday which is what I’m going to chat to you about today. It made a lovely change from my usual of ‘go to work, go home, go to bed, repeat’ and if nothing else it’s always nice to say you’ve done something cultured!
Before I start I just wanted to preface with a note about transparency - I don’t often do sponsored posts but I really do enjoy working with other brands and businesses whenever it feels like a good fit for both myself and my audience. I do quite a few collaborations with similar brands and I love sharing other businesses (as you may have spotted in previous blogs, as I spam you with some great businesses I’ve come to know and love!) I turn down a fair amount of sponsored/paid work as it doesn’t always feel right and my primary job is of course to knit and send out orders, so I tend to just crack on with that and share things with you that I think you’d like. But occasionally I get a brief that feels like a good fit and I think you might be interested which is what’s happened in this case. I promise to only ever accept things that feel true to myself and my audience rather than ‘just for a freebie’ (it’s never actually free) and I promise I’ll always let you know when something I’m sharing as an agreement etc rather than just me sharing organically because I like it.
Ad - Working with RAMM
I was recently asked to visit RAMM museum in Exeter which is my local museum and art gallery. They have an exhibition on at the moment and asked if I’d visit and do some instagram stories and a blog post about it. They have no control over the content I put out but are paying me for the visit/exposure therefore this is post is technically an Ad as it is part of the agreement.
They wanted to draw attention to their exhibition “very much from the perspective of a Devon creative going to see something bright, colourful and inspiring on their doorstep (we want to break the usual stereotypes of contemporary art being all high brow and to welcome even more people like you and your followers into the museum)” which I though was a lovely idea, plus I’m super low brow ;) so I happily popped along with my camera and an open mind…
If you’re local
The Exhibition I went to see was called Criminal Ornamentation, it was curated by artist Yinka Shonibare MBE and is on until March 17th at Exeter’s Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM). It includes works from some big names like Alexander McQueen, Andy Goldsworthy and William Morris - to name a few! Admission to the whole museum is free so if you’re local it’s a really lovely day out. I asked if Helen from the Creative Business Network wanted to join me so we had a very pleasant afternoon looking at art, talking (in way more depth than I imagined) and feeling all fancy. (Feeling fancy is reason enough for me to go back to be honest :p)
I must be honest with you and say that a museum isn’t my natural habitat. I’ve never been very good at interpreting art and I often feel completely out of my depth. I always feel as though everyone else in the room must really GET what this painting is ‘saying’ whilst I stand there, staring at it, enjoying the pretty colours. I definitely felt like this yesterday with the added fear of ‘They are paying you to say something good - Don’t F*** it up Aston!” but as I wondered round I realised that I actually had opinions on the pieces - some were funny, some were creepy, some I didn’t like at all, some were simply beautiful or weird (to my eyes) and others I found honestly made me think. And I realised that that’s what it’s about. You don’t need to go to a gallery and love every piece or stare at each one for hours trying to understand it. You might simply enjoy the serenity or be after inspiration - maybe you do just like the colours, and that’s OK!
I think there can be a real pretentious vibe around art, after all, some of it really is a bit cryptic isn’t it?! Going to galleries and museums as a kid at school and being told to appreciate the art when I didn’t really understand the meaning and translation behind a lot of it has always left me feeling a little intimidated and inferior. As though I was stupid because I couldn’t interpret it all - or maybe because I assumed I couldn’t interpret it properly? But I found great power in realising that Art is only as meaningful as you want it to be. It says what you want it to say so it’s really more about yourself that the stuff on the walls. (Is this actually getting deep and meaningful?! Who’d have guessed it?!)
It was like a revelation to realise that it’s really OK to go for a mix of it all, some things will resonate with you more than others. You can take away from it whatever feels right for you and everyone will take something different. (Obviously I don’t mean that literally - I’m not endorsing theft, *facepalm* on an emotional/spiritual/intellectual level, you understand!)
(Shown Above - James Maskrey - Polka Dot, 2007 // Sean Scully - Red, 1972 // Cathy De Monchaux - Clearing the Tracks Before They Appear, 1994” )
And it’s OK…
The exhibition itself was really a commentary on everything from race, gender, society, class, fashion, body image. Which is totally up my street, I guarantee you don’t want to sit next to me at a dinner party and mention politics or race issues or the gender pay gap because I have SO MANY opinions, and I’m not calm or dignified about them. These issues are everything I feel strongly about and more - I don’t need an art degree to realise that an image of ‘The Last Supper’ depicted purely with people of colour is hugely profound. There are so many layers of that you can look at but also, on a really basic level it’s really fucking thought provoking. Your take away from art is whatever you want it to be and that’s something I actually didn't understand until today.
I was so scared of writing something that wouldn’t make sense. I was worried that I’d misunderstood some of it and if I wrote it in a blog and that wasn’t actually the meaning that I’d look stupid and be wrong. I even spoke to some members of staff to try and make sure I’d ‘got it’ but now I’m literally spelling it out I realise that whatever I got from it is OK because that’s my interpretation. Apparently the day before someone was overheard saying that they could see vaginas in one of the pieces, the museum staff said that as far as they knew that wasn’t the artist intentions but if that’s what you see then that’s cool…. let’s also remember here that art’s a mirror and all that shit, let’s think on that for a moment :p
I could waffle on and tell you about all the things I saw that I liked and what I thought they meant but a) HOW DULL for you! and b) It doesn’t really matter what I thought and felt because that’s just my interpretation of it.
What I will say is that I found the Criminal Ornamentation exhibition interesting and thought provoking, it was curated with the intension of rebelling against the ordinary and the norm and did so through the use of colour, texture and pattern using LOADS of different media. There was a really vast spectrum of art - from paintings, to fashion and textiles to ceramics and a giant garden gnome made from fags. Altogether it was a really interesting collection of pieces that covered a HUGE variety of topics using a massive amount of techniques which in itself is interesting.
Personally I enjoyed a lot of the colours and textures and was really quite mesmerised by the sheer amount of pattern and texture in such a concentrated space. From a really raw and basic perspective I found the textures super inspiring and fun (I’m a HUGE fan of texture and think that it’s the answer to any style question - mix fur with knit with sheer with shiny and you’re winning.) I think texture and tactility are secret weapons so it was interesting to see so much of it used in one space, in many forms.
Don’t Worry about it
In summary, there are so many different ways to view and interpret art and I hope that with today’s post I might have helped some of you who might be feeling a bit intimidated and out of place, as I was. I will definitely go back to RAMM and see what they have and I recommend visiting the Criminal Ornamentation Exhibition if you can make it, can you really beat a free afternoon of culture and colour? plus it’s super chilled in there because everyone’s very respectful and calm and so it’s a lovely mindful space to collect your thoughts and take in the atmosphere. You don’t need to understand it, just think about what you feel.
See ya next week pals!
Next week I want to introduce the latest toolkit, I also have plans to talk the joy of blocking people on social media and perhaps some information about influencer marketing since it’s cropped up a few times recently so let me know if there’s anything you want me to cover.
Thanks for reading and sticking around m'darlins, I’m really grateful that you’re here and hope that what I witter on about brings you joy or helps you in some way. Take care and speak soon,