Findings Project

Everybody has the right to “get” art.

There is often a preconception that the field of art is only available to those from culturally rich backgrounds, the well to do or those educated in the subject. Several prominent thinkers of recent times such as Pierre Bourdieu are the mouthpiece for this somewhat outdated belief. They argue that art knowledge (Cultural Capital) is mostly passed down through family generations and by being privileged enough to be exposed to the subject from an early age. Simply put, Cultural Capital is for the bourgeoisie.

My Masters degree research questions the very foundations of this notion and instead adopts a more socialist approach. I argue that by placing oneself in a learning cycle, as discussed by Kolb, cultural capital can be acquired by means of experiencing, evaluating, reflecting and repeating. The more you attend exhibitions, the more you become familiar with the subject. Curatorially, contemporary art exhibitions need to be accessible by all without losing the mystery of the works and the personal and emotional affect of the artist(s).

“Findings” is an exhibition of Contemporary Abstract painting and drawing by John Renshaw. It is a pleasure to work with John and to have the opportunity to curate such a fantastic body of work from his prolific collection. Whilst firmly situated in the realms of abstraction, John’s work essentially deals with conversations, connections and observations of everyday visual experiences. Each piece has not been drawn or painted from life, rather from memories and recollections of things seen. These are more often than not things that we may take for granted on a daily basis. The shadows cast from stacked piles of wood, the shapes and textures of buildings, their structure and interiors. John captures these in his own terms but hopes the viewer may find meaning, through a personal interpretation of the paintings. References to the visible world are to some extent, inevitable. We are invited to make the connections perhaps referencing visual incidents that we may encounter everyday. Abstraction maintains its position and credence within Contemporary Fine Art practice, it provides a means whereby a painter may explore a personal vision and hopefully encouraging the viewer in a similar process perhaps even extending the artist’s original intentions.

The concept of the everyday and everyday aesthetics is a fundamental part of the work of lecturer, researcher and author, Yuriko Saito. I have been fortunate enough to have conversations with her regarding my own research and this exhibition and she has very kindly allowed me to use excerpts from her book: ‘Everyday Aesthetics’, to suggest how we take for granted the aesthetic beauty of daily life as we get caught up in the fast-paced action of routine life. Our interactions and observations of everyday objects and environments contribute to what Yuriko refers to as “world-making”.

Chris Millward