Updated: Aug 10, 2022
If and when I come to write my book on why, against all the economic odds, I've put so much energy and endeavour into opening a contemporary art gallery in 2022, an early chapter will focus on the power of Art to heal and inspire...
…Even in adversity. ...
...In fact, especially in adversity.
Countless scientific studies have shown that artistic creation and appreciation improve our quality of life and self-esteem. When we create, interpret or enjoy art, we lift our mood, improve our ability to problem solve and open our minds to new ideas and provocations.
Cognitive neuroscientists have found that creating or experiencing art reduces cortisol levels (markers for stress) and can induce positive mental states. It can boost well-being and distract us from – or, conversely, allow us to actively document – the many political, social and environmental traumas and idiocies of a self-destructive world.
The visual arts – and all art forms – play a vital role in society: they're a prime means by which we communicate ideas and emotions, good and bad. Where words are difficult, visual art can come to the rescue, helping us discover value in our lives, even in the face of dreadful acts of wickedness, negligence and suppression. Helping to restore a degree of faith in humanity.
It works on a group level too: consider how artistic creativity stepped in, in numerous forms, during the height of the Covid pandemic, when daily walks around our neighbourhoods taught us to appreciate the small things in life, to look more intently and to record them, privately and publicly, in the extra time that had opened up to us.
Contemporary art reminds us that we're not alone and that we share a universal human experience. Through art, we can process events and feelings, celebrate beauty, protest against wrong-doing and exploitation, highlight causes, tell stories, explore our imaginations and, above all, make connections.
Amidst the current madness on the global and national stage, a regional contemporary art gallery has an important role as a place to share and enjoy creative work. It should never be intimidating or stuffy. It's about human beings commenting on life and reaching out to touch hearts and minds. Some will buy and take home the experience. Others will come back, often, to repeat the therapy. All are welcome.