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The Great Masters, A Gap in My Education

By Ashleylister @ashleylister
I have a confession to make.   I was thrown into a bit of a tizzy when I saw the title of this week’s blog.Despite being a creative type of person for the whole of my life, attending art college for four years and graduating with a BA in Graphic Design, I am a total ignoramus where ‘proper’ art is concerned.Art history at ‘A’ level consisted of our art teacher putting on a slide show, naming the artist and describing the image before us.  It scored a very high boredom factor.  My friend and I sat at the back, giggling (which was how I spent most of the sixth form).The single fact I retained from those lessons was Mr Jackson announcing the title of one famous painting as something to do with cornfields.   My friend leaned across and whispered in my ear, “What? Cornflakes?”We spent the rest of the lesson shaking uncontrollably (I know, I know – but it was hilarious to a pair of silly sixteen year olds, hell bent on making Mr Jackson’s life a misery.I think we succeeded) And that is why I don’t know my Leonardo from my Raphael, unless we’re talking turtles, and I’m even losing that ability since my children grew up and became parents themselves.
What do you do when you need a bit of information and inspiration?You google, of course.The first thing I learnt as I desperately searched, was that the title ‘Great Master’ could be applied to experts with many different skills and talents, not just artistic ones.Initially, that was a relief.I would write about something other than art.By the time I’d trawled through music, golf and darts I decided that art might be the best option after all.
Don’t get me wrong, I love art (in a philistinian ‘I like what I like’ sort of way) but having missed that early grounding due to the ‘cornflake incident’ I think I gave up on finding out about the great masters.I did do a quick cramming session on Michelangelo, Van Gogh and Picasso for my interview for art college, but this was the sixties and all the questions sounded like the interviewer was tripping on acid.I think my portfolio (consisting of several scrappy pieces of paper with doodles on) was flicked through in a bored sort of way, and as far as I remember art wasn’t mentioned at all.Which is obviously how I managed to secure a place.  As my journey through college progressed I somehow managed to fit in the practical sessions between partying and meeting the future husband, but, once again, the theory and the meaty facts seemed to slip through my fingers.
Up until the publication of this blog I think I’ve managed to keep my ignorance pretty well hidden.All conversations about art have involved a lot of smiling and nodding knowledgeably, and all information about art and artists has been on a strictly need to know basis.The husband is pretty hot on this subject, especially the older stuff, so, in the absence of Google, he is my ‘go to’ information point.I have to say, he wasn’t particularly helpful this time, suggesting I wrote the whole article and then revealed at the end that it was about the Ninja Turtles.   That's the sort of man I married. You’ll be glad I didn’t take his advice.

The Great Masters, A Gap in My Education

The Gap in My Art Education

With the shame of my ignorance about 'great art' growing as I wrote my post this morning, I did a bit more googling and then composed the following poem.....
The Gap    by Jill Reidy    In my woeful ignorance I spent an agreeable hour today Familiarising myself with Michelangelo His life and paintings Those wonderful murals I zoomed in on details That looked impossible to create I stared at that enormous ceiling Followed its curve And marvelled at a skill Beyond my comprehension Beyond my imagination I studied the hands From every angle Those elegant fingers Tentative yet strong So near but still so far That gap, unlike my own Will be there for eternity Thanks for reading        Jill
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