Friends tell me that it is not possible to teach or indoctrinate aesthetic sensibility—that it is either present or not. Perhaps they are right, but I choose to think that through the right kind of exposure many people can develop a greater artistic taste, sense of style and design.
Perhaps if the music of Mozart or Bach were to be constantly exposed for a great length of time to our leading politicians they would become gentle and humane. I believe, perhaps naively, that if the ‘couldn’t care less’ ruck of average folk were exposed for a time to things in the domestic and urban environment as fine as the Greek amphora, and as earthy in feeling as the Mexican cooking pot, a majority would respond.
It is naive to imagine that city councils, investors, manufacturers, industrial and commercial designers and architects always consider the aesthetic implications of their work for society. Unfortunately there are too many other, less altruistic motives and we needn’t look far for civic examples – our Harbour may no longer be our ‘Darling’ in the future.
None of us avoid some objective appraisal of, and feelings for or against the shape of things. The simple act of accepting or rejecting something for its looks when shopping, its embodiment of our desires that invite our physical or imaginative possession to speak in tongues, “I can see you with that, in this, accessorised on top of those, minimised by wearing a pair of them and maxed out with a dozen of these dig-it numbers.”
When we are affected in any of these ways we are involved in the rather wonderful aspect of consciousness we call an aesthetic response.
Materialising in 75 events, the 16th Sydney Design Festival presents a citywide program that explores the theme: Design re-think – can clever design save the world?
The Powerhouse Museum will be home to three socially responsible design teams as they seek to find solutions to some of society’s infrastructure problems. The 3 x 3 x 3 Designers will seek improvement of living environment and health of Indigenous people; Emergency Shelter Exhibition – a fundraiser for relief-work following the 2011 Japan earthquake; And Transportable Work-Shed – a portable men’s shed and Wildebeest Workshop that focuses on community.
Other events include Earth to Earth, Ashes to Ashes, contemporary jewellery designed to disappear in the wearing; Video projections, stop motion and poetic text by COFA students are set to appear on the walls of Quietly in a Busy Place. (AS)
Until Aug 18, Powerhouse Museum, 500 Harris St, Ultimo, Free with museum entry ($12), sydneydesign.com.au
BY ANGELA STRETCH