The Art of Mindfulness
Even though I have been visiting art galleries since a young age, I’ve always found them slightly overwhelming. How can one possibly take in that much information and visual stimulation in a short amount of time?
So, a few years ago, I had the idea of visiting a gallery simply to view a single piece of art. The piece I chose was Turner’s famous seascape: The Fighting Temeraire.
My parents are great sailors and my boys are too. I, on the other hand, would never willingly step foot on a boat ever again. Who in their right mind would want to share something the size of a studio flat with your whole family for 14 days solid in turbulent waters without a family therapist joining you?
My mother once said to me, “If only you liked sailing our relationship would be so much better”. I think our relationship would be better if she had hand-me-down YSL Vintage handbags, Clarice Cliff tea sets and a couple of Sir Terry Frost pieces for my walls.
As I know that’s never going to happen, I decided to try and different tack and took my whole family to see the Turner painting instead. And guess what? We didn’t fight. We didn’t yell. We spent a calm, organised morning out at the National Gallery. It was very enjoyable in fact.
That's when it got me thinking about viewing art mindfully. Over the years I’ve been on yoga retreats, practised mindfulness in groups (ended up in therapy; I put that down to the sailing holidays as a kid) but never thought about applying it to art galleries. I attended a walking tour of the V&A and slowly walked with intention around the museum at night when it was closed. A wonderful experience hosted by Uz Afzal. She taught us to be aware of our thoughts and feelings as they unfolded.
Recently I visited the RA to see the Summer Exhibition with the sole intention of seeing Susan Hill’s AC16. For me this method works. It allows me to really focus and enjoy a piece of art without rushing and trying to take in huge amounts of information.
So, in September I’m starting my mindfulness certificate at The Tavistock and Portman hospital and will be running The Art of Mindfulness master classes very soon.
And by the way, if I’ve whetted your appetite for marine art, you’ll find a couple of classic ship pieces in our online store, which I’m sure will soon be sailing off towards the horizon.