This week I was at the NGV International drawing thumbnail sketches of some of the magnificent portraits hanging in the gallery. The process of looking closely and attentively, of really slowing down and engaging with the work, was a surprisingly rich experience and even a little challenging. As details emerged, new ideas and insights also burgeoned and this highlighted to me the importance of taking the time to let art reveal itself.
My experience was timely as today is International Slow Art Day – a day to engage with art slowly. We live in an age of instant gratification and expect everything to come to us quickly. Even for this blog post, I had better get to the point without delay or I will lose you. Yet some of our most pleasurable and memorable experiences are ones that take time to develop and actualise.
The concept for International Slow Art Day is straightforward. One day each year people all over the world visit local galleries to look at five works of art for 10 minutes each and then meet together to talk about their experience. So simple! The aim of the event is to focus on the art and the art of seeing. (You can read more about it on the International Slow Art Day website.)
Over two hundred galleries are participating in Slow Art Day and here in Geelong, the Geelong Gallery is offering a close encounter with four works from the Gallery’s permanent collection. Gallery Guides will facilitate the event so that viewers can explore, discuss and experience the selected works in a new way. The event is free and no bookings are required.
2.00pm–2.15pm: Brett Whitley, Pelican, 1983.
Brett Whiteleym, Pelican, 1983. Painted bronze (cast by Meridian Foundry); edition 1/9, 78.8 x 91.5 x 27.8 cm, Collection: Geelong Gallery. Gift of Dr and Mrs Bruce Munro, 1984. © Wendy Whiteley
2.15pm–2.30pm: The pier head 1910 by Stanhope Forbes.
Stanhope Forbes, The pier head, 1910. Oil on canvas, 123.5 x 149.5 cm. Collection: Geelong Gallery. Purchased 1912.
2.30pm–2.45pm: The 21st of January by David Wadelton.
David Wadelton, The 21st of January 1990–91, oil on canvas, 213.2 x 151.8 cm. Collection: Geelong Gallery. Gift of Rob and Carol Andrew, 2006
2.45pm–3.00pm: View of Geelong by Eugene von Guérard.
Eugene von Guérard, View of Geelong, 1856. Oil on canvas, 89.0 x 154.5 cm. Purchased through the Geelong Art Gallery Foundation with the generous support of the Victorian Government, the Australian Government, the City of Greater Geelong and numerous community and other donors, 2006
Slow art – take time to appreciate the mystery that is art and the rewards will be many. To quote from Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”