I’m not sure how you get people to love art. Especially children. There’s just so much vague foppery around the whole didactic discourse. And painting fruit is, quite frankly, dull as shit. I know some lovely primary school teachers who mine their considerable knowledge to inspire their charges but as the curriculum becomes more demanding, the artistic and philosophical heart is squeezed out of primary education. Parents (so the saying goes) are time and cash poor. Television is the pacifier of the junior masses. So where do you go to learn about art? I used to have Tony Hart and Morph, which would really explain a lot about my adult aesthetic. Turns out tots of the Twenty-First century have… Art Ninja. I witnessed Art Ninja first hand at the Tate a couple of weeks ago. It was with some horror that I witnessed dozens of recently graduated teenagers marshalling millions of bored, bemused children of the chattering classes into lines. They were then handed boards and, in what I can only describe as a stampede of apathy, every child proceeded to hold the board about their heads for the next three hours. It was like 100s of misguided toddler Hercules. All this was watched over but proud (pushy) parents, who proceeded to valiantly wade into the action as the arms of their respective offspring collapsed, gallantly to take the boards themselves. Yay. They totally saved the day.
SO! What was on the board? Oh you know, just cheap Warhol style facsimiles of Art Ninja. Sigh.
Children are constantly underestimated. In my experience*, they can spot an insincere fake a mile off. They don’t take kindly to being lied or pandered to . They have more imagination, by and large, in their little finger than you have in your whole body. They are constantly creating and reimagining the world around them, as they try to make sense of the madness. Yes, they are sensitive. The world is massive and scary. Children are just way more sensible than your average adult, and will tell you it’s bloody terrifying instead of hiding the horror in Guardian columns and over-egged intellectual (over-eggtelectual?) conversations about the state of politics/the environment/economics/[insert pet topic here]. So they don’t need to be talked down to by trite edutainment. They need to be shown what it out of reach to so many young children. Art. The kind you see in galleries that really explores the world. Shown the canonical and the controversial.
Not made to parade a 30 foot picture of a bespectacled numpty in a judogi.
*5 years working in arts education, including schools, festivals and national arts projects.