A couple of years ago, the Management and I went down to Birmingham to visit the National Trust’s Back to Backs. (Worth going to see, Mike, if you’ve not already been.) After an enjoyable trip round we retired to an eating establishment. After the meal, I wandered over to the other side of the room. The waiter was puzzled about what I was doing. I went over to have a closer look at the art works on the wall. The particular thing which had struck me was that the artist had stuck the paper to a piece of cardboard with masking tape. However, unlike most artists who do similar things, they had chosen not to remove the paper from its support but used the masking tape and surrounding cardboard as a sort of frame. It worked quite well. What was very apparent from the reaction of the waiter was that, even though he probably worked there almost everyday, he had never actually ‘seen’ the paintings, any more than he had seen any other fixture.
As the phrase has it, is it just me? Am I peculiar in looking at art on the walls of public and semi-public places? Three years ago, we went on our first cruise holiday on P&O’s ship the Artemis. The corridors of the ship were full of original art works, which I thought were excellent. Here is one of the original prints which was made up of six etching plates. (Sorry about my reflection in the glass, and the problems caused by the uneven lighting in the corridor.)
I don’t know the name of the artist. Can you work out the signature?
I’m afraid that other cruise ships since have not had the high standard of art work as the Artemis. I suspect, though, I was in a tiny minority who actually even noticed the works, let alone spent most of a sea day going round looking at them properly.
On another holiday, the hotel we stayed in had dozens of original limited edition prints on each floor. It would be more accurate to say that they had dozens of impressions. There were only four different images. They had clearly bought the entire editions of those four prints and used them all throughout the hotel. I suspect I was the only guest to have noticed.
What has prompted this ramble? Well, yesterday I was sadly at my brother-in-law’s funeral. The ‘do’ afterwards was at the local clubhouse. As usual I had a nosey at what was on the walls. Firstly, there was a Fine Art Limited Edition Print of a jockey on a racehorse. Actually there was a reproduction of a painting. The Fine Art company had artificially restricted the edition to 850 and this was number 504 of that edition, and, yes, the company had persuaded the painter to sign the edition. But, in view of my post What is a Print?, this was a reproduction not an original print.
Secondly, on another wall were some canvases of people sitting in cafes. They looked fine, but on closer inspection they were reproductions with an artificial ‘oil paint mottle effect’ applied to them. However, I didn’t feel they were trying to be something they were not, any more than any other ‘art’ piece in IKEA.
Finally, tucked in one corner of the bar, was an original painting of three jars. I liked it. I don’t know about anyone else. I don’t think anyone else saw it.