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By Steve Downes
Saturday, October 6, 2012
When it comes to giving an honest opinion when visiting an art gallery, we Brits are not comfortable.
It is far easier to trot out a few platitudes, damn with a bit of faint praise and hope that we have bluffed through without being shown up as philistines.
But now a mould-breaking event is happening in Cromer, with two artists displaying their work and inviting visitors to be completely honest about what they think.
David Morris and Samuel Thomas will show their work at the Red Lion as part of the third Coast Cromer and Sheringham Arts Festival.
And they are ready to roll with the punches, hoping that people will let rip about both the quality and the cost of their work.
Mr Thomas said: “We are all guilty of visiting art galleries and staying silent on what we really think of the work shown. I’ve heard people talking about my work, which can be embarrassing or frustrating.
“But I’d much rather hear what people really think: it’s more entertaining to be insulted by someone’s opinion rather than be bored by their silence.
He added: “I’ve heard people call my work glorified painting-by-numbers.”
Mr Morris said: “I heard a collective intake of breath at the David Hockney exhibition this year, and wonder if there’d have been a different reaction if his name wasn’t on the show. I’ve certainly overheard people saying ‘I could have done that’ and making comments about prices at my exhibitions.”
He added: “We might mutter to our friends, or make a quiet aside, but whenever someone does mouth off they can seem a bit of a fool, even if you agree with them.”
The ‘Elephant in the Room’ exhibition aims to explore questions including: is it art? What is art? What makes someone an artist?
Mr Thomas said: “Why is one painting or image worth more than another? Is Damien Hirst just ‘a manipulative pirate’, or the role of art ‘to sit on a wall and get more expensive’?”
The exhibition will feature opportunities for visitors to give their opinions, discuss issues with the artists, and even vote for their three favourite artists – and those they think most over-rated.
Mr Morris said: “We’re both pretty thick-skinned, I suppose, and sometimes I’m not even sure if I like some of my stuff. But we’re looking forward to finding out what people really think – good or bad – and hope the show provides the chance to explain what we’re trying to do or say in particular works, and how they have come about, as well as have a bit of fun too.”
● The exhibition is at the Red Lion from October 27 to November 3 from 11am to 8pm. Entry is free.