“I’m not going if it’s just pictures” announces our youngest as he flops to the pavement in a strop, clutching his death-trap scooter. Five years old and already an art critic.
“It’s not just pictures, there’s a stuffed, dead, dog” I reply, “Now come on.”
“Oh. OK then.” He picks up his scooter and follows us to the tube.
My art dealer father thinks very little of anything remotely instillationy, preferring skill with a brush to flashing lights, but his grandson disagrees. We’ve taken our children to exhibitions ever since they were tiny, and instillations always win out.
Children approach art in a very straightforward way. They don’t worry too much about deeper meaning or skill, they just want to know what it is and why the artist did it. And if we can’t answer those questions, is it funny?
David Shrigley at the Hayward Gallery was definitely funny. There was a biscuit nailed to the wall, the aforementioned stuffed dog and a picture of a man weeing, labelled with the word ‘piss’. And it made us think. Why the biscuit nailed to a wall? What would we put in our museum if we had one? What is art anyway?
There are worse ways to spend a Saturday morning.