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Hidden Optics

Written by: Courtney Duncan

I often like to say that experimentation is the key to creation because although one might have a desired result of artwork in mind, as shown through the popularity of famous artist’s first sketches, anything can be considered art.

Previously, I, not a critic or professional artist but your regular person seeking creativity, have always been hesitant to write about anything to do with art and this is for a number of reasons. In particular, I have noticed that art often produces two stereotypical reactions.

The first reaction I note is almost always a hesitation or fear of some’s creation. This can be embodied by an instant dislike purely because they can’t interpret the artist’s ideas, or because some find art in itself to be daunting. Bursting full of colours, or the complete lack of them. Harsh and bold sweeps of a paintbrush or the difficult subject matter. Pent up emotions simmering beneath the canvas, sculpture, photograph or song.

To an extent, I agree. Art or the appreciation of art can be a very difficult thing to wrap one's head around. It is a very personal experience both for the artist and the process of their creation, and the viewer. It takes a huge step in one’s appreciation of art to fully understand that your interpretation, no matter the artist’s original idea, is justified. No one shares a childhood, a culture, an upbringing, or the same chemical make up. Every second of every day is a moment that becomes our history and a piece to our unique future selves. Just as a song or location will hold a specific emotional attachment, certain colours, shapes and composition of art can mean something different to everyone. Of course, this is my opinion, but I feel like there is an element of truth that at some point in everyone’s lives, art in its many forms was difficult to grasp but also a saviour. While this may sound like an exaggeration, I truly believe that anything can be considered as art. Songs that ebb and flow like the tide of the sea or beat and blast like the pumping of our hearts all create a visceral reaction. These literally stimulate our brains. Over time you develop a taste for mediums or subjects or colours that call to you. Even now I still find myself shying away from some forms of art because I find it too difficult to comprehend.

The second reaction I notice is closely related to the first, and it is the shying away from art in general because people don’t know where to find it. Of course, there are the curated collections and galleries. But I want to bring attention back to the everyday. To the beauty that is all around us. The songs you listen to as you are making your dinner. The movies and tv shows that grip our attention and make us fall in love. The feeling of wind across your skin that touches like a caress. The composition of colours or angles of a broken slab. All of these either use explicit techniques to capture an audience or are simply the weathering of life.

With particular emphasis on the mundane scenes that fill our lives, searching for art can be a little trickier. It hides in plain sight and struggles to be found. Perhaps one of the most eye opening things that has broadened my appreciation of the natural world and therefore art, is photography. Noticing interesting perspectives or the beauty of something only really came to me when I started to take photographs. Soon after I realised that I was starting to see the world in a different way. I would notice the grass creeping through cobblestones or the sun glinting against the wings of a bird. I completely understand that other people might not see these photographs as particularly artistic but my only hope is that it opens up the possibility for someone else.

You must open yourself to see the world through a different lens. For example, when walking down through the town don’t just look straight ahead but see the intricate maze of the path, the composition of a yellow door peeking out behind derelict brick at the bottom of market street. See the way the light hits the steamed-up windows of a house, the accompaniment of chattering voices and the cooking of food. It’s like a game of hide and seek, a battle to find the astonishing in the mundane.

Crafts, hobbies and everything in between. It is an exciting endeavour to find your flavour of art. Scared or shy, embrace those feelings and tentatively dip your toes into the water. Swim around and let the tide pull you. Soon you will drift toward your favourites, but always remember to test the water.

I realise this has been rather philosophical, but please take your time and enjoy the journey.

--- All photos taken by Courtney Duncan



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