Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bristol Family Arts Festival



Half term is big business for Bristol's many and varied palaces of culture. Nine organisations have clubbed together to make a trail through the City Centre: we followed part of it with the boys today, being based on Edmund's boat, visible in the centre of the photograph. This I took from the M Shed balcony, which gives a great 180 degree view over the Avon and Northwards.

You could spend a whole day in the M Shed itself, but we also packed in the best part of an hour at the Architecture Centre (model building making) and lit a candle or two in Bristol Cathedral, where we admired some weird fragments of mediaeval glass in the Cloister: finally, we visited the Library to choose a DVD. (We only just remembered to get it unlocked - something Cheltenham hasn't yet begun to require us to do.)

And the boys and I marvelled - each in our own way - at Michael Dean's "The Introduction of Muscle" exhibition at the Arnolfini. This occupies two rooms - one huge, one smaller. But "occupies" them with a total of five modestly-sized sculptures. "It's all about texture," the helpful gallery guide told us, encouraging us to feel the amorphous, coloured concrete objects. One was recognisable as a cabbage. Others resembled a tongue, a pair of arms, possibly someone's back. No "labels" are supplied. The black flooring and the (white?) lighting form part of the "show".

The boys enjoyed being able to run round: to put it another way, they took the fact that this was "art" in their stride. I had more of a problem: the acronym Grayson Perry gave us in his "Nice rebellion, Welcome In!" Reith lecture yesterday morning was MAYA, "most advanced yet acceptable". But is it?

Photography came under the microscope in the previous lecture. ("It rains on us like sewage from above.")  His advice to photographers seemed to be, make all your editions limited: "if something is endless, it's giving away part of its qualification as art." You can easily tell, Perry said, if a portrait photograph is art or not. "Are they smiling? If they are - probably not art."

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