Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Telling Stories (& Picking Favourites)

Do you ever get that feeling, when someone asks you to name your favourite something, even if it's something you love and dedicate a huge proportion of your life to, you suddenly forget everything you ever knew. Your brian goes blank & you're left floundering: think of something.

That's how I feel when people ask me about art, so I decided to try this Art History Meme to force myself to think about it a little more. Unfortunately, the result was largely the same, but I did make some decisions about my favourite paintings.

Here's the results:


At first I saw no particular correlation between them, except for a few being similar in date/movement. Until, all of a sudden, it dawned on me:

Stories.

I chose pictures with stories of court cases and scandals; personal love stories and friendships; war-torn lovers; protagonists beginning and ending fierce journeys; people learning; artists exploring new techniques and ideas.

Each of these pictures has their own story: its inception, creation, subject matter, public reception, current location and scholarship. But I personally chose these paintings for the ways they were presented to me. I distinctly remember the first time I saw all of these pictures. All but three of them were introduced by someone I consider to be of unparalleled intellect and personal character. 

They were introduced to me by a storyteller.

Which is when it dawned on me that this is exactly the approach that's needed for architecture, too. It's the stories that make specific things, people or places stick in your consciousness. Although perhaps more importantly, it's the way the story is communicated to you. In my case, these paintings came to mind because someone had managed to bring them to life for me. They made an impression because they were expressed with intelligence, enthusiasm and a good old fashioned bit of gossip and intrigue.

I think that's an approach that can be translated throughout the interpretation of our cultural heritage. I also think it's the best chance we have of creating and maintaining an impact.

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