Who behaves best in the art gallery?
Forgetting Damien Hurst’s mini beast obsession (flies) for a moment, who behaves best in an art gallery, the kids or you? This post is by Nicola Baird. Mostly I find I’m embarrassed trawling around galleries with my kids – I love art, even did history of art A level, but I find it hard knowing that I’ve raised such anarchistic companions.
A is for art, B is for baby, C is for come to the show
Like many mums, when my girls were sling-wearable babies, I spent a lot of the winter looking at pictures, installations and other arty things. It was warm, interesting and a reasonable place to breastfeed. Once I had two children it was trickier, but not impossible with one still in a sling.
Now they are 10 and 12 it’s different. And it’s the little one who makes it hard. She likes to say loudly that Picasso is rubbish, and Gaugin, and Cy Twombly and Salvador Dali.
“I could do better than that”! is her favoured phrase. “This is rubbish,” is the other one. Strangely she’s the child who prefers to draw at home but she’s a hard artist to please, her own work is often not good enough and famous artists are rarely up to scratch.
The exception is Frida Kahlo, the amazing Mexican painter – I always think of her as a paint-covered Sylvia Plath. Nell admires Frida’s work, possibly for the amount of blood and dead things she can spot in each canvas.
Which is why the next show I’m taking Nell to see isDamien Hurst’s horrific “Shall we eat outside today?” installation at the Royal Academy’s Modern British Sculpture exhibition. Because of the last room. By then I just know she’ll be bored and loudly commenting on how much better she is than Moore, Hepworth etc and then she’ll see the flies, the electrocutor zapping the flies and that cow head still bleeding (a real Hurst trade mark) and will be entranced by the yuck factors.
Art is so elastic these days – anything goes – even so I’m doubtful if it is ever OK to spend the whole show criticising what you are seeing, especially if you haven’t yet made a squillion from a squiggle.
There are lots of other ideas about how to entertain little kids in my book Homemade Kids: thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children – from art galleries to home expos. Hope they help!