Joseph Rowntree Foundation Funds New Visuality Exhibition

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Art is in a funny old flux at the moment. On one end there is the deliberately incomprehensible, carefully bewildering concepts stuff. You know of what I talk: the blue tack on the wall, the light switch going on and off, the dishevelled bed, the ‘hilarious’ annual tales of gallery cleaners trolleying artefacts to the rubbish because they thought it was literally garbage. And then there’s the amateurs, boldly strengthening their observational and application skills, trying – sometimes successfully, sometimes not – to give their work wings and make it look better than something you’d find in a parish hall (try it – it’s a lot harder than it looks). With this in mind I went to the well attended launch event of Joseph Rowntree Foundation funded exhibition 360 Colour, a collection of work from artists who use art to relax and raise the aspirations of everyone around them, including themselves. When the smoke clears it has to be said that art does best what it has always said it does best: it provides balm for the brain, it takes the force of the blows of the many punches from modern life and it reminds us all that there is a kind of redemption, whether you believe in a God or not. The work looked great on the York city centre gallery walls. Participating exhibitees included Nell, whose beautifully stylised work is well known throughout Yorkshire. Elizabeth McLoughlin’s carefully tender colourscapes throbbed and bulged with quiet energy. Self styled ‘multi-creative’ Chalky the Yorkie (one of the biggest, most talkative and grateful characters I’ve met), exhibited his witty and searching montages, all executed within the workshops funded by the foundation that has never let its eye off the ball, the ‘Jo Ro Foundation’. Chalky told me, ‘It’s true I’ve had some very tough times, and I know what it’s like to feel beaten down. But these workshops ran by New Visuality have been a real life saver. It’s good to see my work exhibited too. it’s good isn’t it?’ He talked me through his display and I listened carefully to this charismatic, interesting man. When Chalky and his friends went out into York to celebrate the crowds and just how good their work looked, I went back to my hotel and made a decision: I would love to have one of Chalky’s pieces on my wall. The next day I went to the gallery and bought my favourite canvas, a witty mix of paint, collage and word association. It made me feel good that I was supporting the cause of art at the other end of the spectrum from the moribund world of Hirst et al. But you know what? Chalky’s piece looks damnably good on my hallway wall. Art can sometimes be the most gratifying thing to dip in and out of.

By Viv on December 3, 2012


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