I had my first volunteering experience at the Love Arts Leeds festival tonight. The Happiness In Postcards exhibition is at Artspace in Leeds Art Gallery and I found it extremely interesting. The volunteers are there to help point people in the right direction and give them information about what the festival is about and help inform them of the aims of the festival.
After people had arrived and things some of the volunteers got to sit in on the lecture, including me. The guest lecturer was Professor Zeki, Professor of Neuroesthetics at the University College Of London. He is the author of studies on the neural correlates of beauty, exploring the links between art, beauty and happiness. I found this lecture completely fascinating, it was a lot to digest and think about. He made made many interesting points, one quote he used, and I didn't get chance to note down who said it, was;
'People make the mistake of thinking science is for knowledge and art is for pleasure'
I think this is a very valid quote as many people take the view that science is a more serious, academic subject which brings more credited knowledge and insight into the world than art. When, in fact, art can bring more knowledge to the world and the brain in different ways. He talked about how the different parts of the brain are affected when damage, such as when the Visual Motion part of the brain is damaged, it becomes difficult to talk. The only knowledge is Brain knowledge and we are trying to transfer information from a world which is never constant and still.
Finding beauty in any form such as art, music or even mathematics causes the same part of the brain to become active. Dopomene rises when experiencing seeing something beautiful, and it rises even more with the expectation of seeing something beautiful.
These are some points I managed to note down, not as well explained as him of cause and maybe not even fully right but this is what I understand of them from my notes! It was hard to note down what he said as everything he said was so interesting I didn't want to miss him saying it!
After the lecture we showed people round to the exhibition space, we had drinks and got to look at all the postcards people has designed using the theme of happiness. I am a big fan of the postcard format and using it in art projects to interact and get people involved. I am a big encourager of keeping the postcard alive, as it a dying format with emails and phones taking over, I am an avid sender of postcards when I'm away. Having the physical written documentation feels much more personal and real, not in cyber space!
It was really interesting to see the different approaches to making the postcards, people have used drawing, collage, photography and other materials. The many interpretations and ideas to this one word and feeling is what I find the most fascinating, every idea differs from the next. One of my favourites was one someone had designed illustrating a conversation they had had with there daughter about what happiness means. It showed the dialogue between father and daughter and how the ideas of the child to the concept of happiness differ from adults. The conversation involved talking about things that make people happy, such as babies, the daughter said, and also, ice cream brings happiness, following with, oh wait, its just yummy! I thought it was a very sweet and personal account of a conversation about happiness from a different point of view of a child, they are more easily pleased and have more uncomplicated ways of expressing their feelings.
The exhibition is free, and everyone should go!