Friday, 27 November 2009

Kids should go to art galleries. Full stop.

Kids! In you go!

The Reina Sofia in Madrid is one formidable modern art gallery, and in Grit's opinion, if you have kids, unmissable.

I don't know if you avoid taking your kids to art galleries. Perhaps you fret about what other people will say, or worry about the reaction of the art guards, or get anxious about whether your kids will scream, run about, then throw themselves on the floor if you show them a Picabia.

All I want to say is screw that. All kids belong in art galleries. No negotiation. Art is our culture, our past, our future. It belongs to our kids as much as to us. And if they stand in that gallery and yell out their guts, then shrug your shoulders, and call it art.

I should warn you, I have one big attitude problem about this. In some places I have thrown Shark, Squirrel and Tiger into those hallowed halls like a hand grenade. Chuck them in the middle of the Hockney and you can see the bomb blast of moral outrage taking place in slow motion all about you.

The indignation, I bet, is mostly from the child free who think they are the only rightful people who should be allowed to look at art. Spare me.

I have been very judgmental about those women in particular who look like high-class hookers clippyclopping Jimmy Choos through the holy house of art. The same women who, sighting a living breathing child just about to curdle the air with a yellow lungfull of howl, recoil with the type of disgust you would reserve for the smell of an eviscerated rat held over a bunsen burner.

Bad luck, ladies. Art is ours. Art galleries have been our legitimate life and stomping ground since dot. Believe me; me and the gritlets, we are not going away.

I have been very particular about this since I turned that pram sideways to get it through the door of the local art gallery.

And I get worse.

I do not even like kids to be quiet in art galleries. I do not like reverence and hushed voices. What is this place? A church? Nope. No way.

I have taught Shark, Squirrel and Tiger to march straight in there, own that space and place, stand still and be surrounded by all the art they wish; to point, shout mummmmeeeee! loookatthiiiiis! Then, if they hate something, I want them to tell me, strong and loud. And if they like something, I've taught them to lie on the floor, whip out crayons and a sketch pad, copy that idea, and take it home to see if they can model the like.

And do I care about the afflicted souls and morally wounded in our wake? Not at all. Get over it.

If I could get past security, I would make it so every parent can bring in orange squash and blankets, and set up squat in the middle of the floor and sit there, discussing whether vinegar on emulsion would have the same effect, then whip out a roll of wall paper and give that idea a go.

Nothing you say will dent me. I congratulate myself for that art is ours attitude. Because I believe it's thanks to that way-of-life education, now I have three kids who can spend five hours in the Renia Sofia, doing this.


Take your kids to art galleries. I want to see them there.


Potty Mummy said...

OK - next stop, the Saatchi Gallery on the Kings Road. Because I just know that those ladies you mentioned will LOVE it when my two boys turn up. (On the flip side however, I went recently and wasn't impressed. So maybe the Tate first, instead).

Rachel M. said...

Speaking of high heels, I read an article that they are banned in Greece at the Acropolis

Suburbia said...

Yay! I totally agree, always take mine and they are often inspired,as am I. I do envy you your home schooling in this instance, as there never seems to be enough time to go often. Too much sodding homework!

Sharon said...

What a lovely post. I'd love to see this in a national newspaper. It's so depressing sometimes to read about how much people without children and even many of those who have children (but think they should be carefully controlled) resent and are angered by the presence of children getting in the way of their nice adult lives. The same people probably don't like anyone who doesn't fit their idea of normal- so extra noisy disabled children like my son would drive them to distraction.

funkyhan said...


Grit said...

go, pm, go!

heels! i have barely worn heels for ten years! rachel, at the mention of them, i might just have to go and find them and put them on, just to see what they feel like!

oh suburbia, play truant, and come run around in art galleries with us.

sharon, i want you to be able to take your son. reactions are other people's problems, not yours.

yes yes! funkyhan!

katyboo1 said...

yay for you!
When I lived in London I used to take Tilly to the galleries a lot. We were very excited when Quentin Blake did his exhibition at the National Gallery. So excited that I bought Tilly a postcard of her favourite picture (some bats holding suitcases) and she sat on the floor and ate it. Trembling with excitement. That is art appreciation.

MadameSmokinGun said...

My sparkliest gallery experience was actually pre-sprogs - accompianied by my high heeled wide-eyed grown-up friend. Firstly I was dragged by the hand while she elbowed the beard-strokers out the way to get nose-to-canvas so she could point out excitedly 'her favourite bit' of the dead rabbit on the railway line of a Turner masterpiece - 'Oh yeah!' I happily agreed. Then we headed into the main part of The Tate where we drifted apart until my own beard-stroking was interrupted by the increasing clatter of this stilletoed steam-roller yelling 'oh you've GOT to come and see this! I swear it's all maroon!!' And we ran like bag-snatchers into the Rothko room where she guided me along each canvas 'Look! Blue on Maroon! Red on Maroon! Black on Maroon! And THIS is the BEST one - MAROON ON MAROON!!!' And we pissed ourselves surrounded by outraged tweed and linen. All this long before my children think they can challenge me into ssshhhing them!

kellyi said...

you need to visit our local one.

They gave a bunch of 5 year old CHARCOAL and paper in the middle of the gallery and told them to go find a picture they liked and copy it, with only a "please try not to touch" added at the end.

I have to confess (as I have blogged) that my nerves couldn't cope so I sneaked out...shame on me :(