Tea, Biscuits, and Year-Round Slow Looking

This year Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhogskola (a Swedish folk high school and adult education center) hosted Slow Art events several times during the year: once in April for Slow Art Day, and three times during the summer for art students taking summer courses at the center. The slow looking sessions all took place at Galleri Pictor and each session focused on a single artwork – Clara Lundgren’s “Det var här” (“It was here”).

Clara Lundgren (undated). “Det var här” (It was here). Acrylic on canvas. 69×82 cm. This artwork was used for the slow looking sessions at Galleri Pictor.

Arriving participants were welcomed and given a worksheet (in Swedish) containing instructions for eye palming along with slow looking prompts.

These instructions have been translated into English below:

Materials: Artwork, Worksheets and Timer

1) Eye Palming is a technique to relax the muscles around the eyes. Warm your hands by rubbing them together for a few seconds. Close your eyes and press your palms lightly against your cheeks, then cup your fingers over your eyes and eyebrows. Breathe slowly and deeply for three minutes.

2) Open your eyes slowly and look at the artwork with the same focus you had on your breathing.
– What do you notice?
– What colors, compositions, shapes and materials do you see?
– Does the artwork remind you of an event in your life?
– Do you think others notice the same thing as you?

If your mind wanders, try to focus again on the image. Look at the artwork for 10 minutes.

3) Relax again. Take a few deep breaths and notice any further thoughts you have about the artwork.

4) Write down reflections on the worksheet. Do this for 10 minutes.

5) Finally, we reflect together on our experiences of the image and how it felt to do the activity.


During the slow looking session Charlotte Fällman Gleissner, art expert and teacher at Munka Folkhögskola, kept track of the time transitions using a timer.

For the closing group reflection, Galleri Pictor repeated their successful concept from last year of sharing tea and biscuits together while participants discussed their slow looking session. Some of the reflections from this section of the event are included on the Pictor Gallery blog (in Swedish).

We love the focus on a single art work (the original idea for Slow Art Day was to spend one hour with a single artwork).

We can’t wait to see what Galleri Pictor and Munka folkhögskola come up with for Slow Art Day 2024 – and throughout the year. We also hope that future events include tea and biscuits, especially if they save some for us!

– Johanna, Ashley, Phyl and Jessica Jane

New Delhi’s First Slow Art Day – Gallery Art.Motif

For their first Slow Art Day (and as the first registered Slow Art Day in New Delhi), Gallery Art.Motif  opened up the gallery to slow looking enthusiasts.

Slow looking participants
Slow looking participants

The event began at 11:00 am. Visitors were first welcomed by Joan Lueth, Slow Art Day Host at the gallery, and Gallery Owner and Director, Mala Anneja. We at Slow Art Day HQ want to point out that Lueth first brought Slow Art Day to China when she lived in Shanghai, and now, since moving to New Delhi, she has continued her evangelism by working with Anneja to bring it to the Indian capital.

The design of their day was simple: Lueth and Anneja invited participants to choose an artwork they felt drawn to. All participants spent time looking slowly at the art, and then after their slow looking, everyone came together over lunch to talk about the experience.

The Gallery primarily showcases contemporary abstract and non-representational art from both upcoming and established artists, leaving plenty of room for interpretations and impressions to share with others during the Slow Art Day discussion component.

We thank Leuth for continuing to bring Slow Art Day out around the world and can’t wait to see what Art.Mofif Gallery come up with for Slow Art Day 2024, and hope that other galleries in India will also be inspired to join the slow looking movement.

-Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane.

Slow Art Day at Chichester Cathedral


For their third Slow Art Day, Chichester Cathedral in West Sussex, England, invited visitors to look slowly at five artworks ranging from the twelfth-century to present day:

  • Twelfth-century Romanesque stone reliefs depicting the Raising of Lazarus.
  • Graham Sutherland’s “Noli Me Tangere” (1961), which shows the encounter between Mary Magdalene and the Risen Christ who she mistakes for a gardener.
  • Marc Chagall’s stained-glass window (1977), illustrating Psalm 150.
  • Michael Clark’s “Five Wounds” (1994), consisting of five tiny depictions of the wounds of Christ in locations around the Cathedral, and symbolising the Body of Christ: two at the West end (the feet),
    two in the transepts (the hands), and one at the North side (the wound in Christ’s side).
  • Anne Grebby’s “Enfleshed Word” (2023), a temporary installation in the St John Chapel. This is a triptych altarpiece. The central panel depicts Jesus being baptized by John. The side panels consist of abstract designs depicting the Holy Spirit.

Plaster cast of a stone relief depicting the Raising of Lazarus, from Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex. Image source: the V&A museum collections.
Marc Chagall’s stained-glass window (1977). Photo by Arjen Bax. Image source: Wikipedia.

After a brief introduction, participants looked at each work in chronological order for 10 minutes. After an hour, they met up for a second hour of discussion over tea and coffee with John Workman, Cathedral volunteer, who was able to give additional information about the artworks.

The event was fully booked with a maximum of 10 participants in each of two sessions – one in the morning and one in the afternoon. John Workman noted that the small group size works the best in the Cathedral, and is appreciated by the participants.

Workman also sent us a quote written by Hans Feibusch, an artist who saw the importance of art commissioned for a sacred space and wrote this at the end of the Second World War:

But modern people come into church with the impressions of the outside world and all its
images…still quivering in their mind. Their beliefs are shadowy and elusive; they sit and
cannot focus their attention…But if there are paintings… their minds can fix on these,
quieten gradually and make their ascent into the world of which the paintings are only the
shadow.

Hans Feibusch

Hans Feibusch’s work “Baptism of Christ” (1951) hangs in the cathedral, though was not featured in the Slow Art Day event this year.

Workman himself wrote the following about hosting Slow Art Day:

Events like the Slow Art Day are ideal for a Cathedral like Chichester. It gives participants the
opportunity to spend time before the individual artworks. These artworks are in the location for
which they were created. They are there for a purpose; they have something to say, and I think that
the space itself has a part the play.

Chichester Cathedral, April 2012. Photo by Evgeniy Podkopaev. Image source: Wikipedia.

Chichester Cathedral is one of the three churches that participated in Slow Art Day this year, along with Sint-Pauluskerk in Antwerp, Belgium who has been taking the lead in the Slow Art Day church movement. We hope they can continue to inspire more churches to participate, and look forward to what they come up with in 2024.

– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

First Slow Art Day at 1 UV Gallery Studio

For their first Slow Art Day, the 1 UV Gallery Studio in Saratoga, CA, invited visitors to a slow looking and discussion session with Larissa Dahroug, artist, Reiki Master teacher, and owner of 1 UV Gallery Studio.

View of 1 UV Gallery Studio, Slow Art Day 2023. Photo: Larissa Dahroug

Larissa promoted her Slow Art Day event by reaching out to local artists, government officials, and local museum employees in advance of the day.

Flier for Slow Art Day 2023 at 1 UV Gallery Studio

She had a small audience for the day, but it was a good start.

And in June of 2023, Larissa hosted a Saratoga Chamber of Commerce event at her Gallery where she introduced the concept of slow business, the Slow Movement, and in particular Slow Art Day to the attendees.

She is also in touch with the leader of the Bloomington, Illinois Slow Art Day, Pamala Eaton, who has developed a 15+ gallery event in that city – which Larissa hopes to replicate in Saratoga.

At Slow Art Day HQ, we are excited to see another citywide movement develop, this time in Saratoga.

We look forward to whatever Larissa and the city of Saratoga come up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

– Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane and Phyl

Japanese Fairytale Reading at Coral Gables

For their first Slow Art Day the Coral Gables Museum in Florida featured the reading of a Japanese fairy tale, and an exhibit with Japanese-style art by the artist known as The Talented Mr. Martin. The South Florida Charter Ensemble, a non-profit dedicated to improving lives through music, was a co-sponsor of this Slow Art Day, and took the lead in promoting and organizing the session (flyer below).

Flyer created for the Coral Gables Museum event, sponsored by SFCE Music

The session began with the Japanese Fairy Tale “Issun-bōshi”. The story revolves around a boy born to elderly parents, who had wanted a child for a long time. Despite Issun-bōshi only being one-inch tall, and never growing taller, he distinguishes himself through his courage and strong-will. In the story, he journeyes to far-off lands to find his place in the world, carrying a samurai sword made from a sewing needle, with a boat constructed from a rice bowl and rudder made from chopsticks. Below is a japanese drawing of Issun-bōshi, as he travels in his small boat.

Issun-bōshi going down the river in a bowl from “Buddha’s crystal and other fairy stories” (1908). Public Domain.

The day’s event then transitioned into a slow looking session focused on Japanese art.

Here are some photos they sent to us from the day, featuring samurai armor constructed by The Talented Mr. Martin. The armor connects to the theme of bravery in the context of Japanese culture, which the children also encountered in the story of Issun-bōshi.

We are glad to have the Coral Gables Museum and the South Florida Charter Ensemble join the slow looking movement. Reading a known fairytale that connects to the theme is a great idea to for a Slow Art Day event for children, and we hope that more museums might be inspired by this.

We look forward to what the Coral Gables Museum creates for Slow Art Day 2024.

– Johanna, Ashley, Phyl and Jessica Jane

New Slow Art Club in Rovereto, Italy

For their first Slow Art Day, The Slow Art Club, a recently-formed-group of Italian slow-looking enthusiasts in Italy, organized a trip to the region of Emilia-Romagna at the Fondazione Magnani Rocca in Mamiano (Parma) and to the Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia. These collections, which are privately owned, showcase both national and international artwork.

While the Club is based in Rovereto, Italy, members come from all over Italy and visit museums to apply the slow looking approach.

For the event, the Club had two people from the group select three works from each collection for everyone to spend time with. They posted the artworks in their WhatsApp group. Members then went to the museums for a series of slow looking sessions. They then made notes and uploaded those to WhatsApp for a club-wide discussion.

Below are three of the six selected artworks:

Nicola De Maria, Sera, 1981 (front), Collezione Maramotti
Nicola De Maria, Sera, 1981 (back), Collezione Maramotti
Eric Fischl, The Philosopher’s Chair, 1999, Collezione Maramotti
Slow Art Club members looking and taking notes.

Several days after their slow looking sessions, they convened on Zoom to share their notes with each other and discuss their experience. They used Zoom’s breakout group feature to create small groups of 3-4 to talk in depth.

At Slow Art Day HQ we would like to thank Piero Consolati and the Slow Art Club for organizing the first such club that we know of in the world. And we hope they are launching a movement in Italy and other countries where art lovers will come together in clubs to support the slow looking movement.

– Jessica Jane, Johanna, Ashley and Phyl

Mindfulness at the Butler Gallery in Ireland

For their fourth Slow Art Day, the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny, Ireland – a gallery dedicated to contemporary Irish and international art – invited visitors to slow down and connect with artwork from their collection as part of a focused tour and mindfulness event.

Mindfulness practitioner Dee Hennessy started the event by leading a guided meditation.

Then Jean Mann, Assistant Learning and Public Engagement Curator, facilitated a slow looking session in one of the smaller collection galleries, a wing dedicated to the self-taught Irish painter, Tony O’Malley (see photos below).

Following the concentrated slow looking, Mann then led participants in a discussion about their responses to O’Malley’s art.

Tony O’Malley, Bahamas Obeah Sign, 1985
Acrylic, grit & needles on canvas
48” x 72”,122 x 183cm    
Tony O’Malley, Bahamas Obeah Sign, 1985
Acrylic, grit & needles on canvas
48” x 72”,122 x 183cm    

We at Slow Art Day HQ love slow looking at O’Malley’s work and look forward to what the Butler Gallery comes up with for 2024.

— Johanna, Ashley, Jessica Jane, Phyl

P.S. Follow The Butler Gallery on their social media: Instagram | Facebook | X

Eat, Drink and Merrily Look at Art with Ur Mara Museo

Our favorite Basque museum held its eighth Slow Art Day in 2023 and, like they have done in the past, they arranged a full day of slow looking, cooking, eating, and dancing.

The art came from five artists inspired by the French ecological movement of the 1990s, which sought to oppose the consumerist and speculative art market, and to instead advocate for ecological aesthetic values such as recycling and craftsmanship.

The five artists represented included:

Uxue Lasa (sculpture)
Anton Mendizabal (sculpture)
Myrian Loidi Zulet (textile)
Mari Jose Lacadena (therapeutic art)
Eduardo Arreseigor (various art)

Further, a lecture by Juan Tomas Olazagirre – “La notación musical” – was held before the end-of-day special dinner (the dinner known as “community food”).

Click the above photo to watch a video excerpt.

Below is the promotional flyer they used to spread the word about their Slow Art Day.

Someday the Slow Art Day HQ team will finally make the trek to Ur Mara Museo so we can participate in their amazing daylong celebration of art, food, and community. We look forward to what they come up with for 2024.

Thanks,

– Johanna, Phyl, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

Sweden’s Nationalmuseum Designs a Multi-Activity Event for Kids and Adults

For their Slow Art Day 2023, Sweden’s National Museum (referred to as “Nationalmuseum” in Sweden) offered a full day of all kinds of interesting and creative sessions. Museums around the world take heed – this is a great way to celebrate Slow Art Day. 

Under the direction of Johannes Mayer who coordinates the public events/programming, Sweden’s Nationalmuseum started Slow Art Day with a slow yoga class amongst sculptures in the sculpture yard, in the morning at 8:30 am before the museum opened. Participants were led by yoga teacher Victoria Winderud and the session ended with a fresh smoothie served in the café beneath.

Wow. We wish we could have been there.

Then, once the museum opened, young visitors (5-11 years old) were invited to go on a slow looking tour of a handful of paintings in the collection, led by museum staff, between 10:30 and 11:15 am. At 2 pm, adults were invited to do the same.

But that was not all.

There was also a storytelling session at the beautiful Strömsalen (a large room with both paintings and sculptures), led by Sara Borgegård, Intendent Pedagog for the museum (roughly – the “Superintendent of Pedagogy”), who told a saga based on one of the sculptures in the room.

Wait. There was more.

All day long, the Nationalmuseum offered “drop-in art-chill” sessions at the sculpture-hall/yard, where visitors could sit or lay down on a yoga mat and listen to a pre-recorded session, slowly observing the beautiful room.

And even that is not all.

Finally, all visitors could borrow a slow-looking guide to explore and discover works of art at their own slow pace.

Wow. Wow. Wow.

What a great design.

See some fabulous photos below.

Slow Art Day yoga with sculptures at Sweden’s National Museum, 2023.

Children slow looking at paintings at the National Museum for Slow Art Day,

2023 Children slow looking at paintings at the National Museum for Slow Art Day, 2023.

Slow looking at an artwork for Slow Art Day 2023 at the National Museum

Slow Yoga (a person in a resting pose behind a half-reclining statue) at the National Museum’s Slow Art Day event.

Slow Art Day yoga with sculptures at Sweden’s National Museum, 2023

The Nationalmuseum team of Sara Borgegård Älgå, Johannes Mayer and Helena Sjödin Landonthere tell us they are looking forward to Slow Art Day 2024, especially as they continue to receive such great feedback from visitors (note: 2023 was their fourth Slow Art Day). Further, since Slow Art Day usually happens around Easter and many tourists are in town, they plan to offer some of the programs in English as well as Swedish, to make it accessible to even more people.

Wow. We can’t wait to see what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2024.

– Phyl, Johanna, Ashley, and Jessica Jane

P.S. The Slow Art Day team has decided to ask the Accademia Gallery of Florence if they would host a yoga session around the statue of David. Right? Let’s all go!

6th Slow Art Day at The White Room Gallery in Worcester, MA

Payal Thiffault and Michelle May, founders of Juniper Rag magazine and Slow Art Day pioneers going back to the founding, held their 2023 Slow Art Day at The White Room Gallery in Worcester, MA. They invited both the public and the following New England-based artists whose work was on exhibition at the gallery:

  • Curtis Speer, Newport, RI
  • Scott Boilard, Worcester, MA
  • Howard Johnson, Jr., Worcester, MA
  • John Pagano, Paxton, MA
  • Sue Swinand, Worcester, MA
  • Tara Sellios, Boston, MA

Slow Art Day 2023 Poster by The White Room, Presented by Juniper Rag

Participants arrived for the event and began slowly looking at the artwork, with questions and discussions organically began as everyone looked at the artwork. Having the artists present created a lot of additional excitement.

John Pagano’s artwork featured at The White Room Slow Art Day 2023


Viewing began with a look at Scott Boilard’s surrealist painting, ‘Nightmares of Time’, which incorporates figurative imagery and appears to illustrate tension, passion and an emotional journey that the viewer can piece together in many different ways. Attendees were intrigued by the subject matter, the techniques used and the feeling of motion in the piece. Uniquely, the artist had the opportunity to talk about his concept in painting the work and how it related to self-expression and the feelings that come from societal pressure. Discussing his art so intimately was a great kick-off to the day.

Visitors also viewed work by Howard B. Johnson, Jr. who creates landscapes of symbolic references and double entendres that keep the viewer’s eye moving all over the art. Humor, visual taunts and esoterica left many viewers with endless questions.

They then moved on to fine art photographs by Tara Sellios and Curtis Speer and ended the viewing with paintings by Susan Swinand and John Pagano.

Viewers reported leaving with in-depth insights and reflections on all of the work. The hosts said that they found it rewarding to see the different perspectives, from art educators, conservators, engineers and doctors.

Food served at the event (slow looking pairs well with snacks)
Scott Boilard’s painting ‘Nightmares of Time’, featured at The White Room Slow Art Day 2023
Slow Art Day participants at The White Room. 2023.
Slow Art Day participants at The White Room. 2023. Here viewing Scott Boilards painting.
Slow Art Day participants at The White Room. 2023.

We love the way Michelle May and Payal Thiffault continue to lead the Slow Art Day movement – and continue to keep their own minds open to constant and ongoing learning. We look forward to seeing what they come up with for Slow Art Day 2024!

Best,

– Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl