A student’s schedule is consistently brimming with academic work, sports fixtures, and social events. Making time to appreciate art can therefore seem insurmountable; an endeavour which requires unnecessary effort. However, we must disconnect from this idea and recognise that there is a multiplicity of methods for appreciating art. The time and effort demanded merely depends on your own personal preferences.
Reading and podcasts are an easy means to incorporate art into your daily life. I have recently enjoyed flicking through Art in History by Martin Kemp, a renowned art historian. I would recommend it to anyone searching for a broad introduction to the development of art from ancient Athens to contemporary times. The Talk Art podcast by Russel Tovey and Robert Diament also provides exclusive interviews with popular artists and curators.
If you are a student who is more inclined to creating their own art, then life drawing may be a great option for you. A group of my friends have recently been attending ATYN’s Life Drawing Club which assembles at Cabaret Voltaire every Tuesday evening. They are collectively a very talented community, but the club welcomes artists of all abilities.
In Edinburgh, we are fortunate to have several means for experiencing fine art. Central to the city are the National Gallery of Scotland, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of Scotland, the City Art Centre, and the National Gallery of Modern Art. In the coming months there will be an assortment of exhibitions held in these galleries. The most highly anticipated is the showcase of Salvador Dali’s works, taking place in the National Gallery of Modern Art throughout February. This exhibition will be free for students. For group gallery visits and exhibiting your own work, the University’s own Gallery Society may be a worthwhile society to join.
It is understandable that some may find visiting an art gallery a daunting prospect. It can seem intimidating to explore a large gallery which is complete with hundreds of historic paintings which we may know very little about. To counter this, some students may first prefer to visit some smaller galleries which are less “intimidating” and contain fewer pieces of art. Thankfully, there are also many galleries of this sort throughout Edinburgh. In New Town there is the Ingleby Gallery on Barony Street and The Collective by Calton Hill. Nearer to the campus are the Whitespace Gallery in Newington and the Dovecot Studios by Blackwells. The university also has its own Talbot Rice Gallery in the Old College. This semester, attempt to visit these galleries during a lunch break or when you have a spare hour. For those who are busy, allocating a small window of time and seeing only part of a single exhibition could be just the solution. Engaging with art does not always have to be an exhaustive pursuit and obtaining the mere essence of an exhibition can itself prove invaluable.
Each method of engaging with art has its own distinct benefits and of course there are many methods which have not been mentioned in this article. We must strive to incorporate art into our lives as it provides an unparalleled opportunity for self-understanding and emotional development.