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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Themes and Interpretation

theme
noun
  1. 1.
    the subject of a talk, piece of writing, exhibition, etc.; a topic.

  2. 2.
    an idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.

I had a really interesting conversation last week about ‘themed’ shows. I tend to avoid them as I usually can’t make my work ‘fit’ or at least I don’t think I can. My work is very slow to change – partly because it is so time consuming and partly because I have limited time to spend on it (paying the bills and all that) and so I wouldn't, for example, make new work in response to an opportunity. This is not a criticism of those that do – just not something that fits with the way I work. (I think it also ties in with feeling I would have to justify how my work fits in - which is a whole other dialogue).
The gallery owner I was talking to said she set themes to engage with the audience/ customer not necessarily the artist – that she preferred a really broad interpretation by artists as this widened the engagement.  I have been thinking a lot about this. It makes sense that a wide interpretation of a theme gives the ‘theme setter’ a much broader field to engage, discuss, explore with the audience – and also gives the ‘consumer’ access to a wide range of work which they may not normally encounter. I still can’t see myself making work to fit a theme but I think I will be giving a lot more thought to its potential.

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