When Jack came to stay.

Jack is my sister-in-law’s brother…or my brother’s brother-in-law . . . surely there has to be a shorter way of saying this.

Anyway, Jack has been asking for my help to prepare for his new university course in digital games design. His background is in engineering which, excitingly, means all his digital designs of trains and cars would actually work if made in real life. The other students on the course are likely to have come from art courses and Jack wanted to hang out with me and try and get up to speed on arty fartiness! I found a timeline of art history, selected some examples of key pieces I like and why, and came up with this analogy to help him evaluate works of art.

“Lashings of Orange Juice & Lemonade”

The best thing I could come up with was “orange juice and lemonade”. Normally this is a mocktail, perhaps chosen by designated drivers down the pub or anyone in need of a quick thirst-quenching sugary hit.

I use it to explain art (I promise there is method to this madness):

  • The orange juice represents the conceptual integrity of the work, the idea, story or message that the artist wishes to communicate with the viewer.
  • The lemonade is representative of the aesthetic quality or the level of technical skill required to produce the work.

And finally:

  • The glass in which these liquids are poured is my perception of the piece.

For example; I feel that a painting like John by Chuck Close would be a full glass of lemonade – this is because of the incredible photorealistic quality requiring enormous technical skill. Fountain by Marcel Duchamp is a urinal (which he didn’t make himself, basically he just chose it to exhibit to challenge the art world). In its historical context this is a brilliant and humorous thing; a big glass of orange juice for me! Another of my favourite paintings is Empire of Light by René Magritte. In my opinion this is a large glass of both orange juice and lemonade in equal quantities. Check it out if you haven’t see it before.

I use this analogy because it reminds me to split my evaluation into an analysis of the concept and of the aesthetic quality. Also, it’s a little less risky to go around a small gallery whispering to your friend “barely a drop of orange juice in this one, no lemonade either” rather than “that’s a rubbish painting, the message it is trying to convey is weak and it’s not very well drawn”.

We spent the rest of the day loading up on coffee and creativity. We discussed conceptual art in the Tate Modern, grabbed a quick lunch from the stalls at Borough Market and then went sketching in the V&A. We arrived home with sensory and caffeine overloads and completely drenched from a downpour.

After a quick change I took a look in the kitchen cupboard to see what I could do for dinner. We were due at a party that evening; a fundraiser for the production of As You Like It which my boyfriend Richard is currently performing in – catch it quick before it ends on the 19th of May!

The party was 1920s fancy dress and aptly named Jazz You Like It! Knowing there would likely be a number of cocktails (and we all still needed time to get dressed up) a speedy-stomach lining meal was required. Manwiches seemed the only answer!

Manwiches

  1. Roast a selection of your favourite root veggies, garlic and onions in olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil.
  2. Toast some thick slices of bread and spread both sides with hummus (store bought is fine)
  3. Pile in the roast vegetables, sprinkle with zahtar mix and some crumbled feta and form the sandwich with the other slice of toasted bread.

Scrummy! If you are about to go out on the tiles I suggest you scoff these before you get your glad rags on- they’re mighty messy!

The party was brilliant, there was a raffle and Jack won an hour of personal martial arts and fitness training! We donated a dinner party for 4 which we shall be cooking in the winner’s house…a blog post for another day I predict.

Happy cooking!

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