The Fear of the Unknown

I went to the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate Britain on Monday for the second time and took my daughter and a friend. I went for the first time a few weeks ago and couldn’t get anybody to come with me; either my friends were busy, had already been, were uninterested or of the ‘I don’t do art’ crowd.

It’s just brilliant and I was gushing about it to someone that night who turned around and said ‘I’m not an art buff but I don’t see the point in looking at a pile of stuff that’s supposed to be worth thousands of pounds. I could have done better myself, it’s like a kid made it’. I’m not an art buff either. For anyone out there who also ‘doesn’t do art’ I want to clear something up, you don’t have to be an expert in anything to be able to enjoy something, but don’t let the fear of the unknown stop you from finding out.


I studied History of Art O level many moons ago, chosen at the time because it fitted with the other subjects I was studying at a College of Further Education. I admit that a lot of the time I fell asleep in class, it was at 9am after all and as a sixteen year old who was now responsible for getting herself to college, I figured just by being there in body but not necessarily awake I was at least granted a tick for attendance.

However, that class really woke up my visual senses, I found that I felt strongly about certain artists and their work that now when I see something ‘in the flesh’ which I studied and enjoyed, it excites me, and evokes all kinds of feelings and emotions.

I’m a kid who grew up on several council estates and from a family who liked to move home a lot. This resulted in me attending six schools and not accomplishing much, partly due to the poor timing of relocating from one end of the country to another during exam times. So, having the opportunity to go to a local college to achieve at least some exam results was a big deal to me personally, plus meeting people from other backgrounds very different to my own opened my eyes to experiences and worlds I found I wanted to immerse myself in, not in a sense to recreate who I was but to just see what else was out there and learn more.

I certainly don’t claim to know my onions when it comes to many things including art, but I do know what I like and what I don’t like. I also enjoy the reactions art can bring out in people, especially the passion and sometimes the loathing. But as with any art form, that’s what it’s supposed to do isn’t it? Provide a talking point, thereby opening up a discussion?

But there can’t be a discussion if you let an unprecedented opinion or fear of something you don’t know about allow you to bark out remarks like ‘a kid could have done that’. Don’t be afraid to face the fear, and open yourself up to learning something new.

You may not like it, but how do you know unless you try it?

www.tate.org.uk until May 29th 2017

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