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  • Phoebe Craighill

What Keeps Art Alive?

My name is Phoebe and I’m a 17-year-old student who volunteers at D31 Art Gallery. Over the past year, my studies at college have led me to an epiphany about the world of art. I have realised that we are constantly seeing art differently, and those contrasting and developing perceptions are, in fact, what keeps art alive. And this endless cycle of one generation taking over from another in terms of mainstream media maintains society’s active thinking. We are constantly asking “What can be different?”, “How do we change?”, “How do we make things better?” and these questions stem from past and present problems that have had or still have drastic effects on humanity and even the world. These questions are us using our retrospective, learning from the past to make the present and the future better, and we use art as a visualisation or even an audiation (when seeing music as an art form) of this reflection.


No matter who you are or how old you are or what experiences you’ve had, there is always so much to learn and discover from art that can refine your understanding and perceptions of life. Whether it has an impact on your personal identity or the ideologies in society, art makes humanity better. I personally think that art highlights how the soul is vital for our survival. It’s our emotions that tell us when something is wrong and has to change, thus it is our soul that drives our morality. Art also allows the flourishment of the soul, linking to personal growth, art is an opportunity for our self-expression. This refers back to the contrasting and developing perceptions society has toward art. Identity and our backgrounds can determine how we interpret an artwork, we can strongly relate to and identify with the actual meaning behind a piece, or we might have to adapt the meaning to suit us better so we can achieve powerful, cathartic feelings toward the piece.


Here I've included my own abstract acrylic paintings and experiments - this will become clear in the following paragraph:


This whole purpose of art has recently become very important to me, and by me explaining this I will further elaborate on the power of ambiguous meaning behind art. Over the COVID months, I began to use abstract art as an energy release and an escape. I had become so inspired by the infamous Jackson Pollock’s means of defining his work by the exposure of the actions he used to create his paintings. The paint drips and the splatters and even the marks made by his physical body such as his footprints that founded the action painting style felt exactly what I needed during this frustrating time. And I found that contradicting the frustrating aroma that surrounded my physical being with playing classical piano music as I painted allowed control over this energy release, so that I would feel calm and relaxed afterwards rather than just worn out. I began to paint both spontaneously and rhythmically using the music, a few favourites of mine include Debussy’s Arabesque No.1, Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No.1, and Beethoven’s 1st movement of Moonlight Sonata. This developed my individual technique and hence a part of my identity, it helped me to grow and find light in what seemed like the darkest of times. And what I was able to produce can now be interpreted in infinite ways, (linking to ambiguous meaning) given that it was completely driven by emotion – of mine as well as the emotions of the music, and how different people view that emotion can be completely contrasting to one another. Someone might like a colour I used or a pattern I create from how it makes them feel. Someone might be confused or not convinced by an artwork if perhaps they prefer to see subject matter for meaning to make more sense to them.


I view this act of different interpretations as positive controversy, something that seems very rare in society, and rather than a person showing judgement or dislike toward someone for interpreting art differently to them, they instead can feel more open-minded and discriminating in their personal analysis of art. This is why I believe that this positive controversy is what keeps art alive, it prevents us from being restricted by our prior views and attitudes to the world. I think a lot of intelligent people in the world are the ones that are able to constantly see things being “open to interpretation”.



D31 Art Gallery is all about the openness to interpretation; of the artists that produce the incredible, individual work as well as of the gallery’s visitors. Art has never felt more alive where there are no rules, no boundaries and no restrictions to people’s creativity and imagination. Whether you want to improve your understanding and/or inspire your personal growth through the observation or creation of artwork, D31 welcomes you. Artwork can be of any style, any size and shape, any media, any idea or meaning, as long as it can have a powerful effect on viewers, it is all accepted at this gallery. If you wish to exhibit your work at D31, please visit the “Apply to Exhibit” page on our website.


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