I'll confess, I have always found the art world a bit intimidating. Although I love art, I feel I know the world of science better. After all, that's what I studied and the area I freelance in.
I have always enjoyed going to art exhibitions and like discussing the work I see with friends and family...and yet, I have never felt I understand things at the level I do when I read about a scientific study. And if I'm really honest, I actually feel I don't know enough to discuss art exhibitions properly. I don't have the language or the historical knowledge of artists and art movements I would like to and I find the sometimes densely philosophical language used to describe artworks and exhibitions really hard to understand.
When my friend Laura told me she was going to create an accessible podcast about art exhibitions - "like a book group but for art lovers" - with co-hosts Caz and Vikki, I felt relieved that there was finally something out there I'd be able to relate to!
In each episode of The Artcast, Laura, Caz and Vikki discuss an art exhibition they have visited, how they felt about it and how it's made them see the world differently. They talk about the exhibitions in a language I understand - as though we were all sitting around having a glass of wine or cup of tea and chatting about something new and exciting we have seen.
Art evokes in me a feeling of endless possibilities and feeds my curiosity of the world and the kaleidoscope that is human experience.
- Caz Murray, The Artcast co-host
I particularly love how Laura, Caz and Vikki relate the artwork to our lives today, such as debating whether Frida Kahlo would have an Instagram account or the ethics around false identity after seeing the work of an artist who dressed in drag for years. As an (uneducated) art lover and as someone who is unable to see many exhibitions at the moment this podcast leaves me feeling excited about discovering new artwork.
I hope you will enjoy it as much as I do but in case you're not sure if it's your thing, I asked Laura, Caz and Vikki to share a bit more about themselves and their vision for the podcast.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your interest in art.
Hello! We’re Laura Lennard, Caz Murray and Vikki Kosmalska; we’re old university friends who all like visiting art exhibitions, and we particularly enjoy talking about them over a big glass of wine!
L: I studied Art History at UCL and at The Courtauld Institute and although I’ve gone on to work in unrelated industries, I need a good dose of art and aestheticism in my life: I find it nourishes me somehow; it makes me think differently about the world and opens up new avenues of conversation. I love the sense of shared experience or debate that it creates.
C: Although I studied History at uni, art was my strongest subject in school. I was really lucky to have a great art teacher and I vividly remember my first visit to the Tate Modern which was on a school trip (a day out in London was a big deal at the time!) Like Laura, I don't work in the arts, so visiting exhibitions helps take me out of my day to day, get new perspectives and discover the world around me.
V: Laura and I studied Art History together at UCL, but then working life took me pretty far from that and into the City. For me art is really a release from my day to day, the opportunity to think in a completely different way and appreciate different elements of people’s lives.
2. Why did you start The Artcast?
L: I’ve recently been on maternity leave and through the year I have been devouring podcasts, which I have playing in the background while I’m looking after my little one. I’ve been particularly seeking out arts podcasts as I’ve been unable to get out to the exhibitions I would usually have gone to, but I couldn’t find any fresh, contemporary, energetic conversations about the visual arts. There are loads of great book club, current affairs or film review shows, but I wanted a fun and fresh conversation about the art world, and it just didn’t seem to exist.
C: Laura cornered me at a party, asked if I wanted to join her and I said yes! I liked the idea as it gives me a good excuse, and impetus, to get out and make the most of the cultural offering in London and beyond.
V: I think there is an appetite amongst people to hear about what is going on, and anyone who knows me knows I’m not short on views! It is my first time the other side of the microphone though!
3. What can people expect when they listen to The Artcast?
We function a bit like a book group, only the cultural experience we go out to see and meet up to discuss is a London visual art exhibition rather than a book. We launched with the first two episodes on Tuesday 9 October: Frida Kahlo: Making Herself Up at the V&A and Drag: Self Portraits and Body Politics at the Haywood.
Each episode covers a different exhibition and contains a (hopefully!) helpful introduction to the exhibition; a discussion covering the curation, content and themes addressed in the particular show; and a round up of current arts news stories. Here's what's coming up next:
- 23 October: Episode 3 on Space Shifters at the Hayward Gallery
- 6 November: Episode 4 on Anni Albers at the Tate Modern
- 20 November: Episode 5 on Klimt / Schiele at the Royal Academy
- 4 December: Episode 6 on Modern Couples: Art Intimacy and the Avant Garde at the Barbican
Whilst it starts with the exhibition, the conversations span women’s issues, social commentary, psychology, self reflections and of course the art itself. Very inclusive - it feels like I’m right there with them joining them for a glass of wine! Thank you ladies x
- iTunes review
4. Who is The Artcast for?
Everyone and anyone who enjoys art, exhibitions and culture! We’re obviously not experts ourselves, we just love talking about art, sharing opinions and perspectives. We would love our listeners to get involved with the conversation too. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or @theartcast on Instagram.
5. What are your future hopes for The Artcast?
C: At this early stage with this first series, I hope that we manage to put some interesting content out there that people enjoy listening too. We've never done anything like this before, so it definitely is a process of discovering what works and what doesn't. If we manage to encourage people to see an exhibition or engage with art that they wouldn't usually see then that would be a massive bonus.
V: I’d really like to see some engagement back from listeners. We are complete amateurs at this, which on the one hand is terrifying, but also hopefully means that we’re approachable and listeners will let us know their views on exhibitions and our conversations.
6. What is it you love about art?
L: So many things! I’m a self-confessed romantic, and a complete aesthete, but it’s a sublime experience I get for example in the Rothko room at the Tate Modern, or in front of Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne in the National Gallery. Seeing artworks in the flesh is such a different experience to seeing reproductions in books, and I always relish how engaging (or sometimes unsettling!) that process can be.
C: That it can do and be so many things and elicit a whole array of different responses. Art evokes in me a feeling of endless possibilities and feeds my curiosity of the world and the kaleidoscope that is human experience.
V: I think Caz summarises it perfectly - I love that art makes you stop and think, takes you out of the details of your daily life and consider something else. I don’t think that can be underestimated in our current lifestyles which feel like a constant chase.
7. Tell us about an exhibition that inspired a moment of wonder for the world we live in.
C: Years ago I went to a Gillian Wearing exhibition which I found utterly fascinating. She has an incredible ability to document the everyday, get under the skin of what makes people tick and encourage them to show aspects of themselves that can be surprising, amusing and deeply moving. It included her series of photos 'Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say'. She approached people in the street and asked them to write what they were thinking on a piece of paper and the result is startling in its honesty. One lady wrote 'my grip on life is rather loose' which really resonated with me, I think I felt a sense solidarity with her.
V: I saw Caravaggio vs. Bacon in Milan, many years ago now, and what I found really powerful about both artists is the way the elevate the individual. Completely different style, working at vastly different times, but both capture individualistic characteristics of their sitters - good and bad - and make them into art. I think this sense of accepting individuality permeates both their works.