Friday, 27 June 2014

Conceptual Art: Artist vs Writer

On my mission to spend quality time with Beloved Aspie (BA), yesterday’s beautiful sunshine took us to Hestercombe House and Gardens in a glorious corner of Somerset. The finale of the visit was a look around the Gallery. (That’s a lie – the finale was a mega chocolate brownie in the caff before going home). 

Anyway…you need to know that I have been an Art student, studying Fine Art and Art History, and almost went to Art College instead of University and Law. As such, I can find an appreciation for most things though I own my own tastes.

And in fairness, BA has his own posters and prints that he likes, though they are highly likely to involve Dr Who, Superheroes, or cats, and he has a keen eye for sparkly gems.

Off we go to the Gallery rooms, BA dutifully appraising the catalogue notes and locating the exhibits. One was a fairly chunky bronze of a pair of binoculars; another was a wooden stile painted bright blue; another was a spade, hanging on a wall, made of beautiful wood; another a swarm of bees masquerading as a mantel piece clock. In a separate room was Tracey Emin’s ‘there is another place’, a neon tube of writing on the wall.

BA was impressively discreet about his misgivings.
We embarked on a conversation with the volunteer invigilator who told us this was their first ‘modern’ exhibition and as such, she’d had to do a lot of research so that she could talk to visitors, who had some interesting comments. This led to a discussion of conceptual art.

The problem for me, I told her, is that some of the finished pieces are so far removed from the original concept that they are not, of themselves, interesting or beautiful to look at. I fail to see the point if the object offers no attraction and I have to read an essay about its meaning.

Then it got me thinking. If I applied the same idea to writing novels, how would that work?

I could spend my months in advance doing copious research, writing up notes, creating my characters, mulling over the plot in my head, then, when it’s ready I could write my novel in 4 words

…but I love you
And leave the reader to work out the rest.

Never mind flash fiction or the 50 word story – let’s unleash a new form – the conceptual novel. I’m sure I could write a few of those, in fact I’m just working on ‘The’.