Welcome to art school…

But first…
Dulltown, Europe: Today’s fine English expletive, ‘S’welp me Bob!’ is used by a character, Squinting Nan, in Pierce Egan’s Life in London (1821). (From Mary Marshall’s fine book, Bozzimacoo: Origins and Meanings of Oaths and Swearwords, published 1975.)
This oath is obviously a corruption of ‘So help me God!’

Hello… good morning… and welcome, everyone, to our fine art degree course, at this fine old art school. Phones switched off, and placed in pockets and bags please… Thank you…
Now… Young, bright, intelligent, people, just like you, have been coming to art schools, like this one, for years and years, for generations and generations. They have, during their years of study, done lots and lots of thinking, innovating, and they enthusiastically pushed and extended the boundaries of art… that’s what they were supposed to do, and a very fine job they made of it. But of course, after all the years of thinking, and all that effort, we inevitably reach the stage where every possible thing in art has been tried and done, even the most outrageous and outlandish things; yes, long before you were even born, it has, I’m sorry to inform you… all been done… There is nothing new in art to be discovered…
Do I hear an audible gasp from you?… Possibly not…
So, what do we expect from you on this course? Well, we don’t expect you to have any novel or surprising thoughts, or to create any original artworks, and we certainly don’t expect you to bother to learn any real practical skills. If you quickly come to terms with this idea, you will do very well here.
Do I hear you murmur, ‘So, what will I actually learn on this course?’
Well, you will find that we won’t demand very much of you at all, but we will encourage you to follow and develop any piss-poor limp idea that may pop into your head, perhaps something based on some deep inner conflict, some emotional problem that you’d like to drag out into the open and share with the world, that sort of thing… we’ll show you, as the course progresses, how to justify your piss-poor idea, and how to use ‘clever’ language to make it sound much better, and far more interesting than it actually is. Do I hear another gasp? No, I don’t think I do, but I see you smile smugly… Yes, I think you are ‘my kind of people’. Remember, no one: art ‘experts’ (did you hear those quotation marks?) academics, and of course the great stupid public, has any aesthetic sensibility anymore; no one knows what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – if there actually is such a thing as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ art!
This isn’t the 1960s you know, when creativity was bubbling away in all fields – fine art, pop music, film, drama, photography, fashion, all rubbing shoulders and sparking new bright ideas… No, this is the 21st century where everything boils down to money and marketing; the accountants took over years ago; their minions, the talentless curators, the smug useless arts administrators, they run the show for them now.
Did I hear you ask, ‘What about this “clever language” that you mentioned?’ Well, it’s not really that clever. It’s pretty easy to learn, you just have to make it sound clever, a few long words and some arty jargon that people won’t understand, oh, and by the way, you don’t have to understand it either, it’s just so that it looks impressive on the page when you attempt to explain your piss-poor piece of work. But now, to the most important thing… We’ll show you how to network and cosy up to the important people.
‘Who are the “important” people?’ I hear you chip in. Well, they are the money-heads I mentioned earlier. I’m afraid it goes back to that old well-worn phrase, ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…’ The course will instruct you on how to be conniving, sneaky, manipulative, and of course amazingly self-obsessed. I will be running a weekly session on how to be a really convincing, bubbly, and likeable liar, these mornings have proved very popular with students in the past. Try this, ‘Yes, I often used to pop in and feed Tracey Emin’s guinea pig when she was away…’ and, ‘Oh, me and Damien, we are old drinking pals from before he was famous…’
Anyway that’s enough for today bright young people. Phones back on… and I’ll see you all first thing Monday morning… Welcome, to the stimulating world of 21st century art!…


About Dave Whatt

Grumpy old surrealist artist, musician, postcard maker, bluesman, theatre set designer, and debonair man-about-town. My favourite tools are the plectrum and the pencil...
This entry was posted in art, books, brain, Film, history, humour, information, irony, learning, school, thinking and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Welcome to art school…

  1. Michael says:

    …hence ‘help ma boab’, a Scots ejaculation (or ejockulation ?) known to all readers of The Broons and Oor Wullie. Dudley D Watkins, there’s a fine artist.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s