The Persistence Of Ancient Symbols From Neolithic And Pictish Eras
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This dissertation examines the persistence of ancient symbols from Neolithic and Pictish eras and the ways in which they reappear in Scottish art. The discussion takes the form of a hypothetical exhibition which brings together examples of art from many periods and in a variety of formats. Rugoff (2006, p.46) states ‘exhibitions need to ask interesting questions, even unanswerable questions, instead of handing us tidy answers’. By bringing together cultural artefacts and works of art in one venue this exhibition raises questions about how objects come to be defined as art and whether our definitions depend on the context within which an object is viewed.
The thesis of the exhibition therefore is that in placing…show more content… It is organised into sections based on artistic themes rather than chronology, and offers the engagement of touch and hearing as well as the visual. It also moves beyond the gallery, using both the immediate surroundings and site-specific guided visits to remind the visitor of the essential role of the land in Scottish art. The audience reached by this multi-perspective approach will therefore be a wide one, including those interested in Scotland and its history as well as those with an interest in art and creative processes.
2. The Exhibition Thesis: how we decide what is ‘Art’
The ancient artefacts in the exhibition include works widely separated by great periods of time, and works which have been altered by succeeding generations. For millennia the oldest works were simply ‘there’, and part of folklore. From the eighteenth century they began to be viewed as being of antiquarian interest; later they were taken into the care of professional organisations, and later still they began to be considered as a form of ‘art’.
The exhibition acknowledges the uncertainties surrounding their original purpose. Presenting them in an artistic context, it demonstrates that our definitions of what constitutes ‘art’ are also problematical. Even the all-encompassing definition recently proposed by Brian Eno – art is ‘everything you don’t have to do’ (Eno, 2015, 14m. 30s.) - fails in the face of artefacts which would appear to have been an intrinsic