Thursday, 22 May 2014

The Office of Useful Art

Is art useful? Is art just for aesthetic value or does it serve a real purpose?  Could a painting or sculpture be considered useful in a practical sense?  Can you use art in everyday life? What difference could an artwork make to your life?  Art can be significent in our lives without us really being aware.  From the chairs we sit on, the wallpaper on our walls, the tea towel we use to dry the dishes with, the cars we drive, the houses we live in, everything in our lives has to be designed by an artist then executed into a form for living. 

Currently running at the Ikon Gallery till 1st June is an exhibition called The Office of Useful Art which aims to explore the idea of usefulness in art.  Started by Cuban artist Tania Bruguera,  The Asociacion de Arte Util, or the Useful Art Association, is a new, international membership organisation that seeks to implement Useful Art and to promote ways for art to work effectively in ordinary life, rather than a rarefied spectator experience. To be considered useful the art projects must meet the following criteria:

The Office of Useful Art at Ikon is not an exhibition in the traditional sense but will work as a place where visitors can take part in workshops, classes and discussions, a place to read, listen, join in debates or simply to make things that meet the criteria. Visitors to the gallery will also be able to enrol as members of the Association and see examples of case studies from the Museum of Arte Util.

As a Visitor Assistant working at Ikon Gallery I was fortunate enough to take part today in a Lino cutting and printing workshop helping visitors to create printing blocks for the making of Useful Art products such as wallpaper, wrapping paper, tea towels and aprons.


Each day between 12.30 and 1.30 visitors can bring a packed lunch to our lunch club and enjoy free tea from the fabulous 'Souped Up Urn' designed by Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane from a previous Office of Useful Art project in collaboration with Grizedale Arts.

Lunch club using our Office of Useful Art brown paper printed table mats

So come along and make yourself useful by visiting The Office of Useful Arts which runs till 1st June. Check the daily programme of events on the Ikon Gallery website. And don't forget your packed lunch.