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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 7. 1964.

Art Appreciation With Lubrication

Art Appreciation With Lubrication

One of the most entertaining ways to spend an hour in the evening is to go to the opening of an Exhibition at a small gallery. The cross-section of humanity on show is far more interesting than the work of the artist. The general idea seems to be to stand around and view the display whilst listening to some poor unfortunate eulogise, at the same time sipping sherry.

The smoke-filled room and the effect of the "sipping" leaves an impression, rather of the quality of the sherry than of the works on display. The quality of sherry varies with the fortunes of the artist but the most usual type seems to be an inexpensive South African with an effective back-kick.

The sherry, however, is not necessary to create atmosphere; those present create it. One can see all sorts, ranging from the social hangers-on to the art students, who look conscientiously hard-up. The most outstanding example of the original arty-craft type is the woman in the tweed outfit with hat to match, health-oxfords and an enraptured gaze at the form in motion of the sherry bottles.

There are, of course, more sophisticated examples of the type and these are characterised by a vague expression and an ethereal dottiness as they waft towards the bottle.

Next there is the anxious suburban who used to paint a little before she married Stan, but since then, what with the children and that . . . who looks conscience-stricken as it is because the dinner will not be ready.

The speaker makes a valient effort and inevitably touches on the lack in New Zealand; the lack is never made specific but there always is one in some aspect of our culture which is mentioned then excused because of our young nationhood. Indeed a great little country.

After the speech the general mass sorts itself out into little cliques and those that are just not with it are easily seen. At this stage the anxious housewives scurry off the sherry is finished off by the diehards and a few wander around and make appropriate comments.

All the while the artist, whose exhibition and sherry are under surveillance, sits gloomily in the corner and waits for the motley collection of humans, who will make him or break him, to leave.