Our Claire has been making Christmas cards…

It has got to that time of year again to be sending Christmas cards. This year, I’ve decided to make mine and people seem to appreciate the personal touch as well. However, some seem to have quite a negative view of art. This year, Artist was even voted the least essential job anyone could get. I find this point of view upsetting. Art has always provided me with a happy distraction from life’s woes – something I thought was echoed when people started exercising their creative muscles during the first lockdown. So where has this negativity come from?

A lot of it seems to come from our Art lessons at school. Very unlike my experiences, it seems a lot of people were ridiculed in their Art lessons. So it has become associated with some very unhappy memories. I can understand this reaction but it upsets me that it happened in the first place. If one thing has become very clear in the last 150 years, it’s that what is considered great Art is very subjective. I couldn’t even tell you what the ingredients for great Art are – only what I like. So, to me, ridiculing people for not being ‘good’ at Art seems ridiculous in itself.

I also think being ‘good’ at Art is missing the point. As I say, Art provides me with a happy distraction from life. My focus shifts from whatever’s troubling me to expressing myself. I also do not focus on precision. I believe if you want a likeness you should take a photograph as it’s quicker and far less effort. Instead, I embrace what painter Bob Ross called “Happy accidents”. I love it when the paint runs outside the margins and the colours run together. Sometimes, rather than an accident, I do it deliberately. This may horrify the neat freaks but the great thing about Art is that it’s broad enough for everyone to have a place within it. So some may think the great masters like Leonardo da Vinci are where it’s at whereas I much prefer Jean-Michel Basquiat and Bob and Roberta Smith.

As for those who think Art is inessential, just consider the difference Street Art has made to the city. What are all those who pose with Paul Curtis’s Wings or Guy McKinley’s Ode to Mohamed Salah doing if they’re not embracing Art? And Liverpool can’t possibly have the most Art galleries outside of London for no reason at all!

Art surrounds us whether we realise it or not. It is everywhere. Every product is sold to us using Art and every product sold has Art on it… and behind every product is an Artist who created the original. So surely any attempt to marginalise it is doomed to failure. Instead, what appears to be suffering is our appreciation of Art. So I implore you not to shun Art this Christmas – you’ll be all the better for it – and to paraphrase the old slogan, Art is for life not just for Christmas.

PLEASE NOTE: If you’re struggling to cope this season (or any other), WHISC is available for Listening Ear callsGive them a call on 07708 381568 or, alternatively, leave a message on their Facebook page with your phone number and they will ring you back.