Art after hours

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Patrons enjoy an evening in the Art Gallery of NSW. Art After Hours is a great way to relax and broaden the mind.photo: AGNSW

If, on a Wednesday evening, you find yourself weighed down by bills and the cold weather or a stingy boss, I recommend Art After Hours to chase those mid-week blues (to mint a phrase) away.

Every Wednesday evening, the Art Gallery of NSW keeps its carved wooden doors open until 10pm.

More than just an opportunity to see the collection of the gallery after sunset, the event also functions as a space for contemporary Australian art to flourish, and as hub of cultural interest.

The main lobby of the gallery plays host to local bands or performance artists, which you can watch with a glass of champagne, or whatever your poison, in hand.
Guided tours of the latest exhibitions are available, and the latest in the gallery’s lecture series on art, culture, or art history.

While the promise of music and a glass of wine in the middle of the week is attractive enough, that’s not the reason I recommend it so thoroughly.

Art galleries are a fixture of modern life, no matter what city you find yourself in, you can be sure that there is an art gallery somewhere nearby.

There’s always a place where it’s ok to sit and do nothing but appreciate beauty, form, and skill. But there’s the rub. The public art gallery risks becoming just a feature. Schools may take the occasional trip out to see an exhibition (though rarely) and you might see the latest exhibition advertised on banners in the street, but the collection itself, the soul of the gallery, becomes sequestered from our lives.

We remain unaffected by it because it is so easy to access, and because there is nothing to do when there but simply look.

Jean Cocteau said ‘art is the marriage of the conscious and the unconscious’.

The experience of art, then, must become an experience, more than just looking at art with our conscious minds, we have to engage the subconscious through context and environment. This is what Art After Hours does. It provides the opportunity to experience art, to make art relevant.

It removes the guilty feeling you have when you absolutely hate a piece, but worry that means you don’t understand it.

If you don’t like it, don’t look. Just enjoy the music, enjoy conversation and a glass of champagne, or maybe pay a visit to your favourite piece.

Art After Hours is time set aside from everyday life, so is perfect for recharging the batteries.

Next time it’s a cold Wednesday night, swing by.

You’ll be supporting Australian artists and performers, and you might just have a good time too.