When we imagine an artist at work we might imagine them holed up in a studio beavering away at their work, detached in some way from the outside world. But not everyone is so conventional when it comes to converting their imagination into creativity. Here are three artistic disciplines that celebrate art done differently. ‘Plein air’ The plein air (“in the open air”) tradition became particularly prominent in the 19th century and was adopted by many British artists - think Sir William Coldstream, John Constable and Samuel Palmer. But the plein air discipline continues today, with many artists picking up their art supplies and heading off into the outside world to pitch up at outdoor locations. These are artists involved in the world; going out into the open air to paint images of life. Inspired by a sense of spatial adventure, these artists seek not an off-the-shelf version of nature, but the real thing.
Have you ever passed something on the street that made you stop and look? Maybe it was a page ripped from a diary or a curious-looking piece of jewellery. Or a rusty car part. Or a piece of machinery. Found art, or object art, is the art of taking an ‘ordinary’ object and acknowledging it as art. Something like Tracey Emin’s My Bed might spring to mind, although found art is a tradition that was also popular with Surrealists like Marcel Duchamp. At its core is its ability to make us ask what art is, what it means and to assess the value and aesthetic systems we use when we say that something ‘is’ or ‘isn’t’ art.
Street art & graffiti
Pick any urban space and you won't have to travel too far before you come across some street art. Street art has helped to democratise art in Britain, making people realise that they too can go out and create. Like Banksy (well we had to mention him). It can be traced back to Roman times, but street art is currently enjoying a real renaissance in the UK. Once it was looked on as a symptom of decay and depression; now it is seen increasingly as a sign of exuberance and engagement with the world, often by people who feel disaffected.