I was interested to watch the article on BBC Breakfast concerning the Vikings, concentrating on the 'softer' side of their nature. The reporter said with some surprise that 'they were also artists'! Frankly I felt that was rather naive. It is part of the human condition that we are creative. I'm not going to spend the time today talking about the wide variety aspects of creativity that we humans can indulge in, but rather the range of art available across history from supposedly war-like nations.
Of course they did invade, raid and indulge in violence of a variety of sorts but like all human groups throughout history they indulged in arts in a variety of ways.
Viking bling. There is of course a great deal of Viking artwork on pots, ornaments and other artefacts.
More bling but this time from that well known fearsome time of Genghis Khan. The above is an actual artefact.
The artwork and architecture is quite exquisite and of course the great leaders sojourns to the west allowed the opening of the 'Silk Road'.
Lascaux Cave Paintings
I have been fortunate to visit the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux in south west France. These are estimated to be 17300 years old.
Now the point of including this example is to illustrate that even in small groups humans feel the need to record, report and illustrate their life experiences, and they do so in a variety of ways.
These are items of Celtic Art which have been found within our own small islands but demonstrate the love that all people have for good looking 'stuff'.
Most of the art work is very intricate and certain aspects have reflected forward into modern day examples of pottery, jewellery and tattoos.
I could go on collecting art examples from round the world and every nationality but the point I believe is proven above. I appreciate that many examples that exist are a form of record of everyday life but even that is an over simplification of the case. From the very earliest examples of manufactured clothing to the building of carts and artefacts to take on board ships and barges, people decorate. It could be argued that it was to brighten our dull lives but in the case of the people who painted the cave walls at Lascaux they lived in a green and pleasant land. They would have seasonal colour and views but included colour into their records on the cave walls.
In one sense art seems frivolous and yet it is inside everyone of us as a means of expression and entertainment. In all types of celebrations we spend time making the place where it is to happen look good and we do it for the people attending. At my daughter's wedding last weekend we added white silk bows to the end of each pew in the church. We didn't need to for a service lasting around an hour. The reception was decked out appropriately for a wedding and the disco in the evening had everything including flashing colourful lights. Each stage is an exercise in artistic expression intended to stimulate happiness. We even decorated her car.
Writing is one small part of the arts and although not visual, usually, it has all the above elements. As father of the bride I had a speech to make. I found out the bare minimum that was required, used that as a template and then made it personal to my child. Then of course I had to 'perform' it and to that extent it was visually expressed writing. The outcome was an expression of emotions including love and hope but was fundamentally an artistic response to a novel situation.
I think the world needs to embrace the fact that we humans have an artistic side irrespective of more overt forms of behaviour for which groups may be known, and to celebrate the past but also the here and now.