About this section

Minerva with the Muses, Jacques Stella

I don't pretend for a minute that I am an expert on any of the arts, and the aim of these pages is not to provide definitive summaries or deep analysis. Rather they seek to spark your interest and encourage you to explore further, whether reacquainting you with old favourites or introducing you to something new. 


You don't need me to tell you about the most popular or famous works; I'm sure you have heard of Downton Abbey and seen Van Gogh's Sunflowers. I've leaned towards the works that might have flown under your radar - the lesser-known, the fringe, the forgotten or the up-and-coming. 


In the arts, my tastes are unashamedly eclectic, spanning all eras. I listen to Arctic Monkeys and Beethoven, watch Doctor Who and Shakespeare, and read Agatha Christie and Tolstoy. I appreciate cleverness, talent and beauty wherever I find it.


Two things I can't abide in the arts are ugliness and unremitting bleakness. I'm perfectly fine with hard truths, painful emotions, confronting ideas and radical concepts.  But there is enough ugliness and despair in the world already. I look to the arts for wisdom, insight, inspiration, beauty, joy and ideas to improve the world.  Also, my day job involves working with people who are struggling with issues around mental illness, addiction, trauma or abuse, giving me plenty of exposure to life's darker side. In my leisure time I tend seek out subject matter that is funny, joyful or optimistic. 


Abstract art is something that I confess to struggling with. Some people can look at a Jackson Pollock painting and see a harrowing reflection of modern society; I see squiggles. Equally a black door stuck on a wall does not make me ponder existential questions. It just makes me wonder what sort of glue they used.  I'm not philosophically opposed to abstract art, but my poor brain doesn't get it, so don't expect too much of it here. 


I hate it when arts writers pad out their columns with extensive details of the story; that's not a review, its a plot synopsis. I aim to provide a spoiler-free zone, giving just enough detail to allow you to gauge whether a work might be of interest to you or not.


Finally, I'd love to hear what you think about the works featured here, and about your own favourites. My voracious appetite for the arts is never satisfied!