I like to think I'm a pretty cultured kind of girl, even if in a counter-culture fashion. I'm writing a novel, perform comedy and like to think I'm pretty useful with a camera too. In enjoy reading, am a regular theatre goer and have a music collection that encompasses blues, metal and various classical styles (though if I'm honest, I couldn't name them).
For me "a picture tells a thousand words" is a phrase that sums up the potential for the medium perfectly. Despite this, whenever I visit a gallery, I am left wondering exactly what the artist is telling me. Often, they will have written an "artists statement" to explain their work - but since when should a picture need explaining?
I realised that I had little time for "art" galleries whilst wondering around the Arts Mundi exhibition in Cardiff a couple of years ago. I failed to get the point of any of the installations, the films, the prisms on ropes and all of the rest which I've forgotten. Earlier the same year, I went to the Tate Modern. I was similarly disaffected. This isn't to say I don't like art - I'm a big fan not only Banksy's work because it's meaning is plainly obvious, we happen to share a political viewpoint and I find subversiveness a deeply attractive feature in others'. Van Gogh's later works depicting his solitude I find hauntingly beautiful and Picasso's work never needed explaining to me in art classes at school.
Similarly, I can reel off names of photographers' who's work I admire - HCB, Annie Leibovitz, Don McCullin, Lee Miller, Boogie and so forth. If these people are all of a certain mold then I would suggest it is because what interests me above all is the nature of humans. I do, however, recognise a great landscape when I see one and I do enjoy it. I can take some meaning out of it and I do find our planet limitlessly incredible. It is, perhaps, a shame that I feel uneasy about exploring it further but I hate camping, am scared when outside of a mobile signal, can't make fire with sticks and rain makes my hair frizzy.
So yesterday, I was in a well known photography gallery in London. I chose to see an exhibition about people. Specifically, it was several artists' work in depicting their own continent. Please, someone, what is so incredible about 10 000 passport photographs of 10 000 people selected at random, who's only thing in common is their nationality? Why is this art?
Another display was meant to be about goths in Venezula. The pictures were okay. Reasonably well composed, well printed etc and this is something that should immediately have grabbed my attention. You see, I know a thing or two about the goth subculture, I'm one of the ones that never grew out of wearing too much eyeliner. I still go dancing at Slimes, ****at TG and still drink snakebite and black at the Devonshire Arms. The pictures, despite their makeup and clothes and the plainly obvious point that the girls were real rather than models dressed in stripy socks, told me nothing - not even anything I already knew. There was none of the stronger-than-blood loyalties that underpin the scene. There was no dark humour in them and nothing of the music, the culture or the lifestyle which define the scene. It is true, that though the fact that each photograph contained only one person, a slight sense of contrived isolation was achieved but since the reason for the scene enduring so long is the way that draws the isolated together into a community, it's portrayal seems totally inaccurate and rather condescending.
So is there hope for me? Am I in fact a philestine because I am unable to enjoy art galleries? Or am I right and there is far too much shite selling with a £30 000 price tag?
PS - if you want to decide for yourselves whether I can handle a camera or whether in fact, I'm rubbish and should therefore hawk my work to big off galleries at absurdly inflated prices - go to www.charlyburnett.com
and don't winge about the annoying scrolling thumbnails. My brother is currently locked in a cage working on a solution.