Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday Thoughts...

The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

I think this quote give us a real license to explore, to free up our thinking and our investigations and to not worry about what the final product is and if it solves some question, or puzzle posed by ourselves or somebody else.

Sometimes it feels as if a piece has to be fully resolved, with all its loose ends tied off, and a full stop placed upon it. In terms of its design and aesthetic value I think that  this is true. There is nothing more irritating than a clearly unfinished or sloppily pulled together piece.

But with regard to its meaning, its purpose, its reason for being so to speak, it's helpful to realise we don't always actually have to have the answer. We don't have to be able to use the piece to clarify or define or be the ultimate expression of an issue. We don't have to have an explanation that suits everybody. And sometimes it leaves our hands and it is still a mystery to us the makers - what it's really about or what it expresses.

Surely that is one of the beauties of the arts - that a work may have a story in its making; but that others can interpret it and find their own answer to its mysteries.  It starts with one story, but others may find or make their own stories from within it. And one of the joys of making is when we follow the trail of "what ifs?" that emerge along the way...

Its nice that art can encourage and provoke questions and reflection. I'm not sure all art has to be edgy and challenge people's notions, expectations or understandings, but it is good to know it can set up a process of personal enquiry, and meanderings of the mind.

©2009 Fiona Dempster "Postcards Home"


  1. It's following the 'what ifs' that keeps you interested. Learning is one of the great joys in life. Can't imagine having a piece fully resolved in your mind BEFORE you approach it. Thank heavens for those inexplicable surprises... and thank you Fiona.

  2. F this is all so true and so well-put! I am always much more impressed with (and by) art that lingers on long after you've left its presence. It should be fully realized, as you said, but it should also be open to each person's way of taking it in, taking it on, and taking it away. It makes me think of certain movies or books that are nice enough but you forget the second they are done, as opposed to those you discuss at dinner afterwards, and the next day, and are still thinking and talking about years later, not because they baffled, but because questions they raised so expressively still stick with you. Thanks for this post!

  3. Fiona....this is a beautiful and thoughtful post...and all so true. Thank you!

  4. What a great image of something so simple. xoxoxo


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.