Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I sneak into and out of the Art School

Today Marcus' and Michael's classes both went on an excursion to the Art School, where the Young Archies exhibition was hanging. (There is an annual portrait prize for grown-up artists called the Archibald Prize, hence the name). Michael's portrait of his teacher Mrs Parker was chosen to hang in the show, but didn't win any prizes. Here would be a good place to have a photo of him proudly standing next to it, but I don't have one. As I work down near the Art School now, I nipped across to be there with the school group, and have a look myself. They walked down from the primary school. That's a great thing about the modest size of Hobart: weather permitting, the school always walks the kids to excursions unless they are way out of town.

There was some really great stuff, as there always is when you have a bunch of work by motivated kids. The grown-ups were thrown by some of the work that was chosen for prizes but - I guess it's just like grown-up art prizes: unless you know the criteria they are using to judge, you can't say if you agree or not. Should "good" kids art look like grown-up art? Should it be naive? Should we be giving out prizes at all? When I was at school I remember being praised for painting all the way to the edge of the paper. Anyway. Michael was proud and the other kids were proud of him too.

It was weird for me to be back where I studied for three years, over twenty years ago. I said to Marcus and Michael "I went to school here after grade 12 and before I started working" - they looked at me like I was mad. When I said "before that it was a jam factory" they actually backed away from me a little.

I gave Marcus a mini tour - I pointed out where the Graphic Design studio was, but it's part of Photography now I think. I have actually avoided the place almost totally since I finished there in 1989. Sometime in the 90s they went security-crazy, and as a casual visitor you really felt you weren't wanted. You are supposed to report to the uniformed guard at the entrance, state your business and sign in. The big welcoming glass doors are always shut now, and you creep in apologetically through a small revolving door to the side.

The schoolkids were looking at another exhibition on the ground floor when my lunchtime was up, so I excused myself and tried to walk out into Hunter Street. You can't even get out without a swipe card. I waited for someone to come along and they believed me when I said I wasn't smuggling out anything.

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