Holding Hands with St. Vincent de Paul in Melbourne, Australia

For their first Slow Art Day, Monique Silk and her colleagues at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, created a series of Slow Art Cards in sets of five so both patients and visitors could participate. The cards utilized three different art works from their art collection and a photo from their archives. On the back of the card, they included a series of instructions on ways to look at the art works slowly.

The prompts they used are:

  1. Look: Give yourself a few minutes to look all over the art work. Let your eyes wander to all corners of the image, top to bottom and left to right.
  2. Observe: Notice the colors, shapes, objects, textures and markings on the surface of the art work. Where do your eyes focus?
  3. Feel: What words come to mind about this art work? How do you feel looking at this art work? Does it remind you of anything?
  4. Share: Share your experience of looking at the artwork with someone and post an image of the work online with a word of reflection and hashtag #slowartday2022
Ben Quilty, Torana on Flinders, 2002, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
St. Vincent’s Hospital Diet Kitchen c. 1952, Clinical Photography Department Collection, SVHM Archives, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Sarah Metzner, Country Whispers to Us in Many Languages, 2021, oil paint and pastel on paper, photo courtesy of Monique Silk
Penny Long, Pathway, 2011, oil on canvas, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

Cards were distributed to various hospital departments to share with patients and visitors on Slow Art Day. The response from the staff to the cards was very positive.

Monique also a slow art activity in the hospital courtyard. This activity invited people to sit and slowly look at their statue of St Vincent de Paul. They even invited people to come and hold his hands and interact with the sculpture directly. While people were a bit shy when sitting with the sculpture, the hosts gave people space to interact without feeling as though they were being directly observed.

St. Vincent de Paul, by Australian sculptor Peter Corlett, photo courtesy of Monique Silk

One patient was wheeled out to the courtyard to be with the sculpture of St. Vincent and her caregiver said “this was the highlight of her day”. Another staff member said they had never noticed the sculpture before and thanked the hosts for giving them the opportunity to “feel” the presence of St. Vincent.

The pastoral care staff decided that the cards can be used on an ongoing basis and one chaplain said that:

“It’s a joy to offer the beautiful slow art cards to patients. There has been gratitude expressed from those who received your wonderful gifts. Such a great initiative!”

After the events, the hosts realized that they should have included a First Nations art work, which they plan to do for Slow Art Day 2023.

We at Slow Art Day are so happy that St. Vincent’s in Melbourne decided to celebrate Slow Art Day 2022 with patients and visitors. Perhaps, this is the beginning of a trend of many more hospitals around the world joining the slow looking movement, and bringing the power of learning to look at and love art to patients, visitors, and staff. This is a true Mitzvah.

– Robin, Ashley, Johanna, Jessica Jane, and Phyl

Slow Looking and the 19th Amendment in Asheville

The Asheville Art Museum hosted its third Slow Art Day with a virtual slow looking webinar focused on three works by women artists in honor of the 19th Amendment’s 100th anniversary:

  • Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Playing Cards/Malcolm X) from the Kitchen Table II series, 1990.
  • Minnie Evans, Untitled, 2012.
  • Harriet Randall Lumis, The Little Red Bush, circa 1915.
Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled (Playing Cards/Malcolm X) from the Kitchen Table II series, 1990, printed 1999, gelatin silver print, edition 2/5, 26 ¾ × 26 ⅞ inches. Museum purchase with funds provided by 2004 Collectors’ Circle, 2004.24.04.91. © Carrie Mae Weems, courtesy Jack Shainman Gallery.
Minnie Evans, Untitled, not dated, colored pencil on brown paper, 11 ¾ × 9 inches. Gift of Randy Siegel, 2012.08.42.
Harriet Randall Lumis, The Little Red Bush, circa 1915, oil on canvas, 24 × 28 inches. Given in honor of Dorothy Hamill on her birthday, October 12, 2000, 2000.14.21.

Master docent Doris Potash instructed participants to do three things before the webinar: 1) find a quiet, still space; 2) look at each of the three images for 15 minutes; 3) while looking, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What’s going on in each artwork? What details do you notice?
  • If you were in those places, what sounds would you hear? What textures and temperatures would you feel?
  • What memories and emotions do these artworks evoke?
  • Each of these artworks was created by a woman. Is there anything about the works that you would associate with a uniquely female perspective?

Doris then moderated a live discussion about the experience.

The two-part session was attended by 23 participants, who gave very positive feedback about the event:

“A lovely way to spend an hour of my social distancing!”

“…a much needed break during these trying times.”

“I was very moved by the art selections and benefitted from this experience greatly.”

Participant Quotes

The Slow Art Day event was well-received on social media, with over 100 likes on Facebook and Instagram. It sparked so much interest overall that the Museum has since added weekly Slow Art Friday sessions to its regular calendar of events! A recording of the original Slow Art Day session can be found here, and the weekly program description and upcoming fall programs can be found here.

Our mission at Slow Art Day is to inspire museums and participants to embrace slow looking every day. Thus, we are excited that this North Carolina-based museum not only produced a great Slow Art Day but now has made slow looking a weekly activity.

-Johanna and Ashley

TarraWarra Museum of Art Hosts First Slow Art Day

For their first Slow Art Day The TarraWarra Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia featured two very different artworks by Australian women artists: ‘Club Colours’ by Rosalie Gascoigne, and ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ by Jenny Watson.

Rosalie Gascoigne, ‘Club Colours’ 1983, painted and stencilled wood from soft-drink boxes on plywood backing, 172.5 x 129.5 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection. Gift of Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AO, Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2009, © Rosalie Gascoigne Estate.
Jenny Watson, ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’ 2013, Liquitex acrylic, Holbein pigments and haberdashery on rabbit skin glue-primed Belgian linen, 251.7 x 140 cm, TarraWarra Museum of Art collection, Acquired 2013.

To promote the event, Elisabeth Alexander, Marketing and Events Coordinator, created a short teaser ‘slow zoom’ video of ‘He’ll Be My Mirror’, and posted image stories on Instagram and Facebook.

On April 4, participants were directed to a dedicated Slow Art Day page on the Museum’s website to look slowly at full-size images of the two paintings. Shannon Lyons, Education Coordinator, then led an online discussion via the Museum’s social media channels, where participants were encouraged to share thoughts about the artworks and their slow looking experience.

Shannon Lyons shared with us her surprise at how well it went:

From an educator’s perspective, it was interesting to see how willing people were to both delve deeper and give voice to their wonderings online. They actively questioned why aspects of the artworks appeared the way that they did, and why particular elements of the artworks seemed to dominate, hold or demand attention far more than others.

Shannon Lyons

Their first Slow Art Day was a success, with over 5000 impressions and 100+ post engagements across Instagram and Facebook. Further, the average time spent on their dedicated webpage was 6 minutes – dramatically higher than the average time of under a minute for other pages on the site.

The TarraWarra Museum of Art had originally planned to host their first Slow Art Day in-person featuring their newly opened exhibition ‘Making Her Mark: Selected Works from the Collection‘, however Lyons and Alexander had to quickly re-imagine it as a virtual experience due to Covid19.

The whole Slow Art Day team has been impressed with what Elisabeth and Shannon were able to produce – given that it was not only their first Slow Art Day but, of course, also since the pandemic forced a last minute change of plans. We look forward to what they create for Slow Art Day 2021.

-Johanna