Art galleries are my cathedrals

When I studied at Jacob Kramer College of Art, (now Leeds College of Art), I used to pop into Saint Anne’s Catholic Cathedral next door. I’m not a religious man, in fact, I’m a devout agnostic. But what I loved about St. Anne’s was the tranquility. The calm. Because, as we all know, being an art student is a pretty stressful occupation. And I’d never been to an empty church before. (I even went to confession once. But I didn’t know you had to say “Bless me Father for I have sinned” first, so it was a pretty short confession.)

I was brought up a proddy and proddy churches are only open when there’s a service. Whereas, Catholic churches are open pretty much all the time, so you can go in and say a few prayers or light a candle. Or, in my case, just sit in the pews and admire the peace, the architecture, the stain glass windows, the art and the sculptures.

After a couple of visits I started to take my drawing pad to sketch the sculptures. Drawing sculptures is easier than life drawing classes because the human body is more defined in a sculpture.

I don’t go to church anymore. Instead I go to art galleries. They are my cathedrals. They are the places I go to escape from reality and immerse myself, not just in tranquility, but in one of my greatest loves – art.

We’re not as blessed as our cousins in the Big Smoke. But we do have a few good art galleries in the North West. In Manchester, we have the Manchester Art Gallery and The Whitworth. A short 35 mile jaunt down the M62 to Liverpool and you have The Walker and Tate Liverpool.

And it’s this last gallery that is the point of this post. I was fortunate enough to see Picasso’s Peace and Freedom exhibition there. (Running ’til the 30th August.)

I love Picasso’s work. He was a genius. And a prolific one at that.

I don’t mean genius as in: “Phil Collins’ drumming in ‘I can feel it coming in the air tonight’ is genius.” Phil Collins is a muppet. Always has been, always will be. He was shit in Genesis and he’s even worse as a solo “artist”. And that’s not my opinion. It’s the opinion of the man sitting next to me holding a pistol to my head making me type. (Who looks suspiciously like Peter Gabriel.)

No. Picasso was a genius like Einstein was a genius. And not just a genius painter –  “What? You don’t like my paintings? How ’bout a sculpture? No? What about a plate? I’m really good at plates. No? That floor looks like it could do with re-tiling.”

The man was a veritable art machine.

If you can get to see the exhibition, go. It’s brilliant. It’s inspirational. It’s humbling to be in the presence of work that has been touched by his hands.

And, if art galleries are my cathedrals, this one was blessed by Apollo.

Scroll down to see some of the work on show. And, unlike the Klimt exhibition here, it’s actually Picasso’s work! Not some bloke who lived in the same town as Klimt who may or may not have known or been influenced by him and used to deliver his post and was a bit handy at making chairs. Enjoy.

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