Opt In For Art Exhibition

The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, Fri 20 Apr - Sun 6 May


Feelings of intimidation must be invoked in many young visitors to modern art galleries, the lofty white space commanding respect and control, the art untouchable and immaculate. The Fruitmarket Gallery’s ‘Opt in for Art’ education programme, running for two years, aims at dispelling this mystification by drawing young people’s attention to the creative processes and ideas behind making and displaying art. This exhibition demonstrates the outcomes from the many artist-led workshops linked to the programme, in which around 2000 young people aged 7-18 have been involved, not just in making the art, but also curating and marketing the show.

Each workshop responds to the exhibition programme; most recently large-scale comic book style drawings have been made in answer to the current Trenton Doyle Hancock exhibition. Previous projects include a surreal collaborative sculpture called ‘Biscuit Wars, Bourbon vs Custard Cream’ made in response to Dada’s Boys: Identity and Play in Contemporary Art. The Fred Sandback exhibition also offers inspiration; artist-led workshops in which playful coloured string pieces were made in the gallery, to be developed into more substantial sculptures in school.

One of the major selling points of the Opt in for Art Programme is its exposure to young people art that avoids the schoolwork clichés of technical skill, instead focusing on the power of creative ideas in conceptual and collaborative art. One workshop participant comments, ‘I learned that art doesn’t have to be a good drawing or sculpture . . . there are no boundaries.’ The most compelling aspects of this exhibition will be the processes leading up to the show and the experiences gained along the way. Certainly one hopes this is where the emphasis will be.

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