“Listen to what your tummies are telling you” about art

The best lectures and talks invite you to look at the world afresh – this was so with Robin Trew’s talk at assembly on Monday, which was based on the highest-grossing, top 46 Chinese artists. Showing examples of their work, he talked about how the shift in popularity (from “angry oils” to lighter pen and ink) might result from a shift in the nature of the purchasers (reflecting the financial crisis and the growth in relative wealth of the Chinese super-rich). He asked us as audience to think about what we liked and what we didn’t. Intriguing stuff in itself, but yet more intriguing when Robin put this in a historical context, inviting us to read Eric Hobsbawm on Art and reminding us that modernism, often seen as reflecting the shock of the First World War, started well before it – that movements in art sometimes anticipate broader societal movements; and – here’s the first unusual bit – the young’s instincts are better attuned to spotting such trends, so – and here’s the second – “listen to what your tummies are telling you” about what you like and don’t like in art, because it could be telling you something about the future. Robin’s work is mainly to do with interpreting and translation (leading an MA course in these areas at University of Westminster). Refreshing to hear someone whose talk is an invitation to start looking at the world in a different way – and who invites us to see the arts as something central to our understanding of the world. If you want a quick refresh on Art after 1950 read Hobsbawn’s Age of Extremes, Ch 17.

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.