Posted on 11 Comments

Looking and Seeing

I love the National Museum in Cardiff. It has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and early twentieth century Art. I used to visit it a lot when I was a student there in the 1980s. We visited it yesterday afternoon.

We started in a contemporary exhibition called “Who Decides?” . It didn’t particularly engage me although there were some excellent etchings by Paula Rego.  But my attention wandered.  I think it tells you a lot when I decided that I was more interested in the Assistants who spend all day here, than the work in this particular gallery. Perhaps, it because I have recently done at stint as an exam invigilator that I paid them more attention than I usually do. I was intrigued. So I started taking photos… DSC_2112.JPG



I got caught up in the idea of looking at the people that were meant to be invisible. I looked at these “invisible people” even in the galleries where I was interested in the work on the walls. They are not really invisible as they are certainly a presence in the gallery. Especially when they tell off the visitors for touching the sculptures. One man was caressing a Henry Moore piece, in the way the rest of us long to, and got a swift reprimand. Another was clearly drunk, he was humoured by the assistants, but asked to be quieter. He did a lot of pantomime hissing in response to that and veered out of the gallery! I pretended not to see.

No Photography Allowed
“No Photography Allowed in this Gallery!”




The colour that I seem to looking for yesterday was red. The assistants had red ties. My favourite paintings had red in them. I think its this long winter – looking for visual and psychological warmth.

Armand Seguin, Christopher Williams and the wondeful Peter Blake.

11 thoughts on “Looking and Seeing

  1. you have a wonderful eye for what is not obvious )

    1. Thank you, maybe it’s a lack of focus, really!!

  2. Do you know who the artists are of the two large paintings in the 2nd and 4th photos? Just curious …

  3. Red! I like the idea of focusing on red. Red ties , red in the paintings. Next time I am looking at some exhibit I am going to observe what color I am drawn to.

  4. Great pictures. I know what you mean. I often take as many photographs of the visitors and staff in galleries as I do of the artworks themselves. Fascinating to observe reactions to the surroundings.

    1. Glad that I am not alone! If there had been more visitors in that gallery I would have taken photos of them. Yes, I do like observing people.

      1. I have some interesting images of people out and about, and from exhibitions and galleries, but I am never sure whether it is OK to post them on my blog. I guess they can be categorised as street photography. Many of your paintings feature people. Is it necessary to ask permission from the subjects?

      2. That’s an interesting question. I generally don’t but I don’t think that most of the individuals I paint would actually recognise themselves in my paintings (I’m just not that good at likenesses, to be honest!).

  5. Nice artwork. I particularly liked the photo of the three paintings ( middle one is my favourite), with the caption: “No photography allowed!!” – Intriguing study of the assistants too – it must be a boring job on a quiet day in the gallery.

    1. Ha! Ha! That’s what the attendant said just as I took the picture. He had no idea that I was photographing him not the (admittedly very beautiful) George Shaw paintings. I’ve done exam invigilation which isn’t exciting either but it can be approached as a form of meditation because you do have to pay attention to what is happening right now. I find it easier to be on my feet and walking than sitting down.

      1. I guess standing keeps you more alert.

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