Is it possible to have a great art experience from home?

Hello, my name is Adele and I am one of the two interns working on the Bouts Project for the Bowes Museum.

Adele Carraro

I was born in Italy and moved to the UK to study Curating and Art History at the University of York for my undergraduate degree. Whilst there, I nurtured a particular interest in understanding how different segments of audience react to and engage with art. This is the reason why I chose to study Curating which is largely concerned with devising art-related experiences enjoyable by as many people as possible. I am intrigued by the challenge of widening audience segments by making art ever more accessible through diversified and tailored activities. Having been exposed to different methods of curating between Italy and the UK, I grew awareness of the cultural footprint which lies at the basis of audiences’ mindsets thereby greatly influencing the whole attitude towards experiencing art. I am keen to understand the socio-cultural processes behind such approaches in order to conceive innovative ways whereby art can be catered effectively to the public.

So far, I have been talking about experiencing art by purposely omitting to specify that museum exhibitions and activities are all in person, as it is fairly natural to contextualise art experiences within crowded museums. However, what if that crowd could not visit museums anymore? What if anything publicly displayed had to become privately enjoyed? What would the repercussion on the traditional way of visiting museums be? Well, we are living exactly in this peculiar time where conventions have to be swiftly replaced with experimental responses to an unusual situation provoked by COVID-19. Luckily, we also live in an era where technology allows to stay connected without any physical contact. It is precisely at the intersection between the two that I started developing my idea for the Bouts Project. In the painting “Saint Luke drawing the Virgin and the Child” by the workshop of Dieric Bouts the main scene is situated in a domestic setting, probably Saint Luke’s, wherein it is also possible to spot his studio on the bottom right. The fact that Saint Luke is portrayed making art in his own habitation of which several details are shown and emphasised in the painting led me to focus the project on his relationship with the interior space. During lockdown, we all had to stay confined within our households, yet this situation might have also elicited individual creativity as a coping method. Through this project, it is my intention to unveil feelings, both positive and negative, aroused in the course of lockdown. Therefore, the painting works as a starting point for making the public reflect on their lockdown experience through art, although remotely. In fact, I am developing an immersive virtual environment, which will be accessible from smartphone or laptop, with the idea to sensitise audiences on their own experience of lockdown. This unprecedented situation certainly has been a cause of steadiness and immobility, yet it also gave birth to several dynamic initiatives in diverse industry sectors. Like Saint Luke painting at home, people have started transforming their houses in workplaces and creative hubs, so this project is conceived for documenting these strange circumstances through exploiting technology which has been deeply fundamental for our survival as social animals by allowing us to keep being united without human contact.

What is a museum without its visitors?

How is art perceived outside museums?

Is it possible to have a great art experience from home?

Has lockdown permanently affected our way of enjoying art?

My project is attempting to find answers to these and other questions through making people reflect on their own lockdown experience. The whole country suddenly increased technology usage to keep working and stay connected with others, so what is the reverberation on the art world? I am developing an immersive virtual space accessible from smartphone or laptop with the intention of sensitising audiences on their own engagement with art during lockdown. As we had little preparation against COVID-19, it is fundamental to closely observe the aftermaths of governmental decisions in every sector, which is why I am interested in gathering thoughts on individual lockdown experiences and engagement with art.

Has lockdown unlocked a new dimension for experiencing art?  Please take a moment and take Adele’s survey and help us find a response:

Blog by: Adele Carraro, Curating and Art History student at the University of York.

From home to the homepage is part of the Bouts Project kindly supported by National Heritage Lottery Fund.

With thanks to the University of York.

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