A report from host and museum educator Nina Montijn in Amstelveen, Netherlands:
We had a great Slow Art Day at the Cobra Museum for Modern Art!
In three organized art walks, visitors were challenged to look slowly, to genuinely take their time and lose themselves in the works of art. Participants looked with awe at four selected works, discussed with each other, learned from each other.
For those who preferred to look on their own we created two guides with several tips. Also we distributed notebooks and pens, so everyone could write down their discoveries. Quickly there were visitors watching and writing vigorously everywhere.
Afterwards visitors could chat about their experiences in the museum café whilst enjoying a complimentary beverage. Here we heard many enthusiastic stories about the tour. Even works of art that didn’t seem so interesting at first, turned out to be quite captivating.
I really think Slow Art Day is a keeper!
In Chichester, England, Slow Art Day participants communed with five artworks in the cathedral and bishop’s palace.
Host Naomi Billingsley, the Bishop Otter Scholar at Chichester Cathedral, writes in her blog: “Although the Slow Art Day initiative is secular in origin … it translated well into a sacred space, and some of the participants said that they found it a spiritual experience. I’m thinking about experimenting further with this format, and perhaps trying an even slower viewing experience (people said that ten minutes went quickly).”
She shared participants’ comments, among them: Slow Art Day “created a space to see new things in works seen many times before.” And: “It is the joy of Chagall that stays with me.”
Naomi’s Slow Art Day blog is here.
We had a wonderful Slow Art Day at HAM Helsinki Art Museum! People occupying the floors of the big gallery to draw on a huge paper together (some even for hours!), DJ playing songs fitting the day’s theme through headphones to our visitors and slow watching on our new HAMfulness guided tours.
— Aino-Marja Miettinen of Helsinki Art Museum
From Canberra, Australia, Annette Twyman of the National Portrait Gallery reports “great success” on Slow Art Day:
The participants, all strangers to one another, took their stools, floor plans and notebooks and headed into the gallery space. After 15 minutes with each of five portraits, we met for coffee, tea, biscuits and a chat about their experience of slow art in the NPG. Among their comments:
“I have never done anything like this before, I have sat very still and after a while I really started to look; it was great. Some of the portraits were very detailed and symbolic and some seemed simpler, but every one was interesting. I could have spent longer …”
“I would not have chosen these portraits, but … they made me look; one was difficult and I stayed with it, now especially after our discussion I am glad that I did that.”
“The portraits said a lot about women, just the change between the early placid portrait of Ann Lawrence (1841) and then penetrating Norah Heysen (1934) and then the video portrait of Cate Blanchett (2008), a big difference. But after a while I noticed maybe Ann Lawrence was thinking, her eyes looked very different from her mouth; maybe she was not happy being so passive.”
“I have enjoyed our talk afterwards, everyone is so full of their own ideas; it is very good to be able to have that quiet look on your own at the art without anyone else and then talk together afterwards.”
At Uillinn, West Cork Arts Centre in Skibbereen, Ireland, a small, enthusiastic group celebrated Slow Art Day by becoming one with the art. They immersed themselves in the setting for performance artist Amanda Coogan’s durational work, Spit, Spit, Scrub, Scrub. They mingled with the artifacts of her five-hour performances – seeing them as sculpture.
“I thought it was interesting to be spending time looking at one of the places where she had been performing, but without her there – like looking at an empty stage set,” said Alison Cronin, schools coordinator at Uillinn.
“We almost felt like performers ourselves, with other gallery goers looking at us and wondering what we were looking at.”