Manchester Art Gallery

“floating, suicide, angels, jelly…”

…all thoughts that were discussed during a recent Art bites lunchtime discussion.

Gathering every Wednesday lunchtime a group of random strangers look at, react to, reflect on, ask questions about two art works on display at the gallery.

This short session has been running regularly at the gallery for nearly ten years, but it never loses it’s edge. Nearly always a great conversation unfolds and everyone leaves with their thoughts slightly shifted by the encounter. I’ve often thought about why this session retains it’s freshness. And I think it is the simple structure : two art works, 15 minutes in front of one moving onto 15 minutes in front of another. It sets up the classic compare and contrast. An experienced facilitator, neither saying too much or saying too little, but allowing conversation to flow freely, but not too randomly, passing the baton from one person to another, no one dominating and everyone given the opportunity to contribute. Each person builds confidence in their own ideas as thoughts are aired and gather momentum.

Art bites has it’s regulars, but always has new people, and even if we are looking at the same work of art with the same people, our emotional, psychological states are different from the last time. What is present in people’s minds, the weather, the season, the latest local, national or international news is different from the last time and the conversation will naturally take a different course.

In many ways, Art bites is the exact opposite of another programme we run Take notice, see recent blog post. Take notice invites you to be still and notice the randomness of our thoughts without engaging with them, whereas Art Bites invites you to spill out your mind, all thoughts, ideas, random connections welcome and explored.

Comments from Art bites regulars:

I like the random spin offs that you get.
People’s comments are fascinating.
It’s great finding people who want to talk about art… kindred spirits.
It’s good to meet people of all sorts of ages and be connected to different generations, it stops me getting stagnant.
I don’t need to know a lot about art to throw my 2pence worth in.

Art bites, every Wednesday, 12.30-1pm, meet in the atrium
Led by our great team of volunteers who love to chat about art.

Meg Parnell, Learning Manager : Volunteers and Adult Learning

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