Archive for the ‘but is it art?’ Category

In this, the next segment of our continuing series ‘Yes May, but is it art?’, we consider a new exhibition that passed before the newly bespectacled eyes of little May this week.

It was not May’s first time at Salisbury Cathedral. She and I enjoyed the cathedral’s tea and scones while I was pregnant and unable to complete the Cathedral tour on a visit only four months ago. I was gutted. (A lie. That scone was love on a plate.)

This weekend, however, May was determined to see more at Salisbury Cathedral and was treated to the Conflux exhibition of Sean Henry sculptures. The exhibition’s life-like sculptures of people juxtaposed ordinary people with the saints adorning the cathedral.

I reached this woman's elbow.

May is a big fan of exhibits that challenge the viewers to consider the value of things. In this exhibition the question was: Should average people be considered equals to the saints they are placed amongst?

The sculptures had a surreal quality that May found easy to ignore, even if her mother found it slightly disconcerting. May can easily brush aside anything she feels is not significant enough to draw her attention. From afar the sculptures looked real, but up close it was a frozen reality and just that bit too large – large enough to make her Mama feel like she was in a scene from Alice in Wonderland. (My husband said I should be used to this since I am already so short, it is a feature of my every day.)

But, who cares what I think?

May, is it art?

On approaching the magnificent cathedral through the square:

Snoring. Bit of wheezing.

After a bottle of milk in the catherdral cafe:

Perking up. Ready to critique some art!

In baby changing room toilets listening to the hand dryer:

It’s art! It’s art! (May loves hand dryers.)

Outside by the sculpture of a woman walking:

Interesting. Possibly art. May listens carefully to see if she makes any funny noises.

Standing inside the open sculpture of the same man lying in bed and standing by a table:

It might be art, but it certainly isn’t interesting. You know what’s interesting, Mama? Dinner. Dinner is interesting.

At that point we retired to the pub where May and her daddy were both reacquainted with their bottles. I waited until then to ask the most pressing of questions: May, does art have a place in religion? Should places like Salisbury Cathedral celebrate modern art?

Slurp. Slurp. Big smile. Straight into bouncing!

Salisbury Cathedral, be proud. May approves.

Side story: My friends, who live in Salisbury and hosted us for the weekend – thank you Anthony and Donna! – saw a dog contemplating this exhibition the previous weekend. The dog could not figure out why the man in the bed looked so much like a man, but neither smelled nor moved like one. So if anyone fancies creeping out their dog, this exhibition is for you.

Want to read more from Stacie? Check out her posts on BabyCenter’s Momformation!

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As a side contribution to the continuing feature ‘Yes, May, but is it Art?‘ we ask May to consider the Welsh rugby team in light of their performance last weekend in the Rugby World Cup. May is an expert in many areas, and what a shame that we haven’t allowed her to voice her opinion on sport.

Because May is HUGE Wales fan. HUGE. And so, it comes to light that she was very very very disappointed in her team. Far more disappointed than the photos below indicate. (As you, dear reader, can clearly discern, that is some very sombre bouncing.)

May has been waiting for Wales to pull their finger out and destroy South Africa for years. Perhaps she wouldn’t choose to use such violent language, no wait… What is that May? Oh, she wants me to tell you she’d be far more aggressive, but that this is a family blog.

May’s struggle to come to terms with with her team is deep. And, if last weekend’s performance is any indication – a victory will be tantalizingly held before her eyes for many years to come.

Poor May had to spend a great deal of time cuddling with her Daddy post-match, she was so upset. Wales, May says, you can do better.

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What are May’s two favorite things (outside of bouncing, of course)?

Bath time and music. Even better in combination.

She loves kicking her feet to the music. She loves to sing along to the tunes. If all therapies were music therapies, May would probably be an Olympic athlete by now. So much so, I’m considering sending May to music therapy sessions starting in September. (Thoughts?)

And so it is, dear reader, that I bring you the third in the occasional series ‘Yes May, but is it art?’

Previously, you found May contemplating Modern Art at the Tate Modern, followed by the Turbine Hall exhibition Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds, also at the Tate Modern (which incidentally closed the day after we visited, coincidence?) In this segment, May passes judgement on the work of that snaggle toothed icon of 70s and 80s Pop, David Bowie.

Rather than go through all of Mr Bowie’s great works – and rest assured, thanks to her father, May has – we will focus on a few choice songs. Personally, I would be quite happy to work through the entirety of ‘Ziggy Stardust’, but neither May nor her father seem to care a whole hell of a lot about my music preferences.

Tonight, during bath time, May and her father rooted through the depths of his music collection. As each song began, May would either express approval (lots of kicking and smiles) or displeasure (squeals of pain).

Yes May, but is it art?

From ‘The Man Who Sold the World’ (1970):

Black Country Rock – Kick! Kick! Kick!

The Man Who Sold the World – Definite signs of displeasure from the first note, turning ugly very quickly.

From “Hunky Dory” (1971) –

Life on Mars – A very fickle May responded to this one badly at first, but five minutes later: Kick! Kick! Kick!

It ain't art, Mr. Bowie.

From ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars’ (1972) –

Rock N Roll Suicide – Hated it. Perhaps May feels Time shouldn’t take a cigarette and put it in anyone’s mouth because it is a dirty nasty habit. Whatever she thought, it wasn’t positive. She was so upset she almost hurled herself out of her bath chair into the water. Thankfully, Daddy swapped quickly over to ‘Young Americans’ or it may have been the end of our little May.

From ‘Young Americans’ (1975) –

Young Americans – This young American loved it! Is there a better song in all the world?

To sum up: May appreciates the weird, wonderful world of David Bowie, but she thinks he is a bit pretentious. Art it ain’t.

Want to read more from Stacie? Check out her posts on BabyCenter’s Momformation!

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Faithful readers of this blog will remember that May is a budding art critic. For my birthday, today, she offered to take me to the new exhibition in the Tate Modern’s turbine hall.

The Tate Modern rests in a disused power station on the South Bank of the River Thames. The turbine hall is a concrete shell, several stories high. For this year’s exhibit, the artist filled the floor of the hall with millions of crafted, porcelain sunflower seeds. Attendees are encouraged to stroll and sit and disturb the seeds in any way they choose. The point of these exhibits, or the point to plebs like myself, is to involve yourself with the spectacle.

Unfortunately, unlike May, I am not an art connoisseur, nor it seems do I have even the most basic knowledge of seeds or porcelain, since I allowed May to choose what I thought was one sunflower seed, but was actually a piece of conceptual art, to bring home to Daddy. (Apologies to the artist. My husband called me a thief.)

Having established that I can’t even tell the difference between a real and a crafted sunflower seed, it is with great relief that we now turn to May to pass judgment.

May, but is it art?

The exhibit was a slow burner for May. At first, the exhibit left her cold.

Literally. May’s bare feet on all those cold seeds did not thrill her, to say the least.

But, May soon enjoyed the possibilities afforded by a million seeds, all her at disposal. She lay on them. She kicked them. She leaned on them and buried her toes in them.

So, if by “art” you mean, did it move her and make her consider the world in new and fascinating ways, May says, “Yes!”

However, as a point of comparison, May was equally amused by the hand blowers in the toilets.

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This week, in between medical apppointments, we squeezed in all kinds of new experiences. May giggled to Last Choir Standing finalists ACM gospel choir who were entertaining folks at the hospital. (She says, “Yes!”) She paid a visit to Borough Market a haven of blue cheese and free samples. Yum. (May says, “No!”). She also attended her good friend Anna’s 1st birthday party. (May says, “Yes!)

Finally, May visited the Tate Modern art gallery. It is an ex-power plant; cavernous rooms a stroller can easily negotiate and high ceilings that swallow up baby cries. Mainly, we went to view the enormous canvases painted with bold, primary colors – visual stimulation for May.

Not everyone visiting the Tate Modern was happy to see May. These people fell into two categories:

Type 1: Unlike me and my fellow art aficionados – all wearing tight, black clothing draped with scarves – your baby can’t possibly appreciate high art.

Type 2: What is that pretentious mother thinking? She must actually believe her baby can appreciate this high art!

As an answer, here is May’s response to the all-important question of the day: “Yes May, but is it art?” (Click on each painting to link to the Tate.)

Barnett Newman – ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ (Which one is this? May knew.)


Moaning as if in pain. Could have been a deep, emotional response to the painting or possibly a gassy tummy.

Henri Matisse – The Snail


Not interested in the least. Sighed loudly. Tucked herself into my shoulder for a quick snooze.

Francis Bacon – ‘Seated Figure’

Squeals of joy! Laughter! Giggles! Bounce bounce bounce. (I told May she should have a deeper appreciation for Bacon’s dark and disturbing works, but she disagreed. Bounce bounce bounce.)

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