Posts tagged ‘Sarjeant Gallery’

May 31, 2011

Stone Cold Bottoms

Following up from my ‘Tesla Magic’ post I’ve been thinking about the art experience and children.

When we think of children and art we tend to think of finger painting in pre-school and lino cuts at primary school, but it doesn’t have to be art at their level, so to speak.

I’m quite careful not to ‘dumb down’ my language for our kids. As a speech and drama teacher I value language – its complexity, its subtlety, its nuances. I want our boys to develop an excellent command of English, and indeed, any language that they later care to learn. With this in mind, I speak to them in the language that I feel best transmits the message I have for them. I use long words, obscure words, any and all appropriate words – and sentence structures too. I do, of course, understand that they won’t always comprehend these more ‘grown up’ utterances so I’m also happy to provide a ‘little person’ translation when what I’ve said draws a blank look.

The point is, that I realize that, in the same way that we expose our children to language, we can expose them to art, including the visual arts.

We had our boys with us at the Sarjeant Gallery on the weekend. Our youngest was his usual placid self and either drank things in quietly or had enough of his own thoughts to occupy him. Our three year old, however, charged around and had a good look at everything in his quite active way. He found the wooden dogs in the Song of the Woods collection of some interest and was, I hear, quite intrigued by a manufactured tree with bits of person dangling from it. My husband was most amused, however, when our little man discovered a statue of two men wrestling. “Dey got no pants on!” he declared. Indeed they were nude. He then had to touch their marble bottoms to see what this was all about. Then their curly hair.

I’m not exactly sure what he took from the experience but I’m sure he filed a few new ideas away in his wee brain.

Take your children to an art gallery once in a while, just as you would a museum. Expose them to these things. They might have to be short trips to match short attention spans, but that’s OK. You can go back for another look later.

May 29, 2011

Tesla Magic

Yes, you’re right, it is disgraceful to have lived here for well over a year before ever venturing into the Sarjeant Gallery. We finally did yesterday.


We enjoyed all the exhibits but I was particularly taken with the exhibition of photographs from the Tesla Studios. The Sarjeant is currently displaying a selection of photographs from Mark Lampe’s years at the studio, spanning the 1930s to 1955. They show a variety of scenes and occasions, portraits, weddings, local events and even images commissioned by insurance companies.


I found myself enjoying the photographs on a couple of levels. I eagerly scanned them to find places I recognize or perhaps catch a glimpse of my grandparents all those years ago. But I also enjoyed the prints themselves. There is something not just appealing but compelling about them. Perhaps it’s the depth of contrast and the tonal range, or the absence of grain or noise. I’m not quite sure what to put it down to – not being a technician – but I thoroughly enjoyed them. So much, in fact, that I plan to go back to examine them again.


They say a picture paints a thousand words, which must be why I cannot adequately describe what I saw. The only possible solution is for you to get along to see for yourself. The Tesla Studios – the Mark Lampe Years exhibition runs until July 17th. Entry is free but donations are welcome.

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