How was your arts education at school? At ours it was pretty scant. When I was thirteen my art teacher suggested I take art for my final two years at high school. I spent hours at home drawing and I loved drawing and painting at school so took an Art GCSE. I had a different teacher. She gravitated towards the a group of girls studying Textiles and the rest of us didn’t get much of a look in. I didn’t visit galleries with my family, I guess people didn’t in the 80’s. So I don’t remember being schooled in any form of art. The only artists I was aware of were Beryl Cook and Roy Lichtenstein. I failed my art GCSE. Despite spending the best part of my childhood designing comics and drawing I decided I was rubbish at art and forgot about it.
When I moved to London aged 19 to study Fashion Journalism a whole new world opened up, the arts world. I started seeing all sorts of crazy and unusual exhibitions that opened my mind to new ways of thinking and looking at things. On such exhibition was the Damien Hirst curated ‘Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away’ at the Serpentine Gallery in 1994. I saw how art seeped into everything and everything permeated into art. One of my tutors Martin Raymond said that to look for future fashion trends we should be like detectives, looking at art, design, architecture, photography, music, film and seeing how it influences and moves into fashion, maybe not now but in the future.
These days I am still expanding my mind with art, trying to see as much as I can, when I can. It blows me away to see art on the street, in an unexpected place, to go to a gallery and see something inspiring. I love it, I find it relaxing, stimulating, brilliant.
But as I say I was never schooled in art…which bring me onto this wonderful book. What You Looking At? 150 years of Modern Art in the Blink of an Eye. In this book BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz takes us on a journey through a century and a half of modern art, from Monet’s Water Lilies to Hirst’s excursions in formaldehyde. It is funny, anecdotal and dead easy to read. Its like chatting to the cultured uncle you always wanted. Gompertz was director at the Tate Gallery for seven years and is passionate about modern art. The book also includes a map of Modern Art, designed like a subway or underground map. Totally unpretentious and accessible, its a wonderful book.