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Art & Lifestyle

We have all seen the recent TV programmes and newspaper articles on TATE MODERN: love it or hate it we can all see that modern art is news. Most of us saw the razzmatazz of the re-opening of the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden last year. These two recent events remind us that 'art' is a part of life. Whatever our preferences we know that there is a world of interesting experiences out there. Many of us are interested in painting, sculpture, design, architecture, photography, literature (including poetry) or the performing arts (theatre, dance, music, film, TV). People are stimulated by art. No one enjoys all forms of art; likewise very few people are unmoved by any form of art. Participation in some artforms requires dedication and training, often from an early age. But many activities can be taken up by anyone with a few hours to spare each week. People who do not want to participate can learn about their favourite art forms through reading or using the internet. Or we can just listen to the music, read the books, look at the pictures/sculptures/films etc. - and enjoy.

In planning our careers we should take account of 'the Arts' as important areas of leisure, communication and personal development.

In our leisure time we can encounter the arts as creative participants and/or as members of an audience. We can open ourselves to the messages and impressions sent out by artists. Not all artists have 'something to say' to us. Often artists are just expressing their own feelings - leaving the audience to make what it can (or will) of the result. It is up to us to take what we find interesting and leave the rest.

In communication we can make us of the arts as a bridge between our imagination and those of others, at home, at work or in our leisure activities. We can use the common experience of an artistic event or artefact to open up communication with others. We all chat to friends and colleagues about the news, TV dramas, televised sports events and other common experiences provided by the mass media. These exchanges help build good relationships between family members, friends and work colleagues. We can also develop these and other relationships by sharing artistic activities and enthusiasms.

In our personal development we can use the arts to stimulate our ability to think creatively, to stretch our imaginations. If we let our imagination engage with the artists' we may be able to see the world differently, for a moment, for a while, or for the rest of our lives !

Many people in mid career need new outlets for their energies and creative processes. The children are growing up, the partner is developing new interests, the claims of athletic challenge are no longer so important. The arts can provide just the outlet we need for personal development. Commitment and investment in art-related activity in mid-career can become satisfying right away. The experience will help us use our own creativity to solve problems at work. Creativity comes from habit, not just from 'talent'. The investment will also be a real bonus later in life, in retirement.

There are so many opportunities in the arts today - everywhere we look there are museums and galleries, performances, classes, clubs, TV programmes, books, videos, equipment - all available to us free or at modest prices. Experienced people are ready to assist us, in personal contact or through the media. We really have no excuse not to pick up a brush, a pen or a musical instrument, join a church choir or become a member of a theatre group!

So what do you think? If you are a new convert to artistic activities, or an old campaigner, an enthusiastic 'performer' or an interested observer - please let us have your views and we will publish the best in the Cafe.