If visiting galleries still makes you think of school trips and aching legs, then you’re probably doing it wrong! Going to a gallery can give a sense of achievement equalled only by giving blood or completing a crossword, and yet statistically only 36% of 16-25 year olds have been in the last year – less than any other age group. So what’s stopping us?
I don’t get it
Actually, no one does straight away. And there’s no way you will simply by gazing at a painting/sculpture/some woman’s Unmade Bed for a matter of seconds. When you read a book you wouldn’t expect to learn everything about it from just the cover and title, so don’t expect as much of art! It needs a little give and take. Whilst you’re there, read the labels/signs/booklet to go with the works of art; just going that extra step means you’ve made a real effort, and leaves you more likely to feel like you’ve achieved something afterwards.
I can’t afford it
So maybe you don’t want to fund the soulless, money-grabbing art world, and the fact that some gallery collections are worth more than the GNP of a small third world country makes you shudder. But remember that almost all government-funded galleries are free. And also that in spite of this, arts institutions bring back double their investments in revenue. So as well as the cultural and spiritual enrichment, by visiting a gallery you are doing your bit for the economy, especially if you buy a postcard.
I’m not a gallery person
Once upon a time, visiting galleries was the pastime of the upper classes. But now National Collections belong to the whole country, and galleries work tirelessly to make people feel that this is true. So if you live here and pay taxes, why not take your friends to see your Titian in the National Gallery, or your Warhol in the Tate Modern?
I don’t have time
You don’t have to be in London to access important galleries anymore, nor do you have to go out of your way. More importantly, you don’t have to spend hours trawling through an entire gallery with no breaks or respite; in bigger galleries, to traverse the whole place in one go would be near impossible. Pop in for half an hour, and devote your time to one room. Don’t forget we have two galleries on University Park; so go for the coffee, and stay for the art! After all, aren’t we all here to learn?
Melanie Solomon & Vicky Urquhart