An Observation of Observations

Musings on the accomplished and sublime work of artist, Stuart Cussons.
Listen to a spoken voice version of the blog post, here:



Currently we have Stuart Cussons exceptional work showcasing in the gallery.

It is a reason to celebrate, but also brings with it, not inconsiderable vexation. Why?
Well, if I may be candid, it underscores two things that I hate about the “Art world”. The propensity for some people to be visually lazy; and the assertion that the work is simplistic, obvious, and could be deftly fashioned by a child; unsurprisingly, the lazy viewer’s child.

I don’t get it. Why they don’t get it.

If Stuart’s work were in the Tate/Whitney/MOMA, (or even GOMA, only 200km away!), it would be greeted very differently I suspect. At least in such spaces, most folk would stop, engage with the work, and at least think: “I don’t really understand this (or like it), but it’s here in this ‘important’ place, the work must be of some significance, and so I’ll persist and spend some more time with it”.

Hey, I could be wrong, but I do suspect that a major gallery brings a gravitas that does indeed help the appreciation of the artwork in many people’s eyes.

My point is that I’m naive enough to argue that the work should be admired and respected regardless of the vessel containing it. The reality is that presentation, and the blessing of the Art Gods, (critics, curators, and people that know about this stuff), does indeed matter; and the public respond in kind. Packaging has for centuries, been at the heart of consumption. And for God’s sake spare me the pious bullshit that Art is NOT for consumption - it is, it’s an industry Virginia, and it needs engagement on a commercial level for artists & galleries to survive. We’re a great distance from the Whitlamesque funding utopia these days. Have you checked the priorities of the current corporatist Junta government? (End of rant).

I suppose I’m troubled by lack of quiet enjoyment and reflection of the work by many people entering the gallery. Oh, to be sure, some folk do spend more than 5 seconds admiring the work and at a point between then and 5 minutes, walk away just a little more curious, a little more uplifted, and perhaps, infected with wonderment. The rest, zoom past the epic panels, oblivious to the great subtlety contained within them. How I want to leap at them and urge them to look again, with quietude, introspection, and surprised discovery!

If you haven’t seen Stuart’s work, I strongly urge you to do so. If you cannot physically be here, please go online and (imperfectly) witness them; we have a youtube interview with the man as well!
Stuart’s artwork cannot rationally be described as “simplistic”, it certainly can not be accused as being “obvious”; and it most assuredly cannot be replicated by one’s child; however strong the temptation to invoke some misguided Freudian Ego extension may be! The exhibition is literally stunning. It not so much sings as quietly whispers. It is a whisper that haunts.
As a non-artist, I stand in still, respectful awe at these things on the wall. I am certain that I could NEVER fashion such marvellous things of quiet, profound beauty.

Art needs to be admired, witnessed, pondered upon. As the old axiom goes, “Art without an audience is meaningless”.

But what do I know?
At the end of the day it could be that people simply don’t like the stuff ... it’s a funny ol’ world innit?!