In today’s busy society, it’s easy to rush past the beauty around us, including the benefits that art, as a precursor to technology, has brought us.
To celebrate the gifts that art has given to society, Starts at 60’s community writers pulled together a reminder of the ways it has boosted our enjoyment of everyday living.
The first books were hand-produced for recording religious doctrines, accompanied by elaborate illustrations. Then the Gutenberg press was invented in the middle of the 15th century and illustrations were cut into wood blocks to be printed. The communications expert Herbert Marshall McLuhan says the printing press was the start of technology.
And so came etching and metal letters for printing, then typewriters, then the development of technology that led to photographs, that went on to be used as book illustrations. Now, we have family photograph albums, both digital and paper, ‘moving pictures’ in cinemas and at home, and nowadays home computers, as well as devices such as smartphones and tablets that let us see images in so many ways.
The first kinds of written communications were pictograms, such as hieroglyphics. From there to postcards, and now to letters and emails, we wouldn’t be here, talking online with both family and friends and strangers from around the world, without art giving us a kickstart on communication.
Without art, the lovely, peaceful art galleries we visit wouldn’t exist. Nor would there be murals or stained glass windows in churches and cathedrals, or sculptures recording human development.
Whether it’s Banksy’s murals, the huge grain-silo pictures, or just a beautifully done, colourful piece of graffiti, without art, we’d just have ugly tags or scribbles on our walls.
Without art, our clothes would just be shaggy furs and rags, shoes would simply be furs tied around the feet, and headwear might be more Davy Crocket and less day-at-the-races. And portable bags would be Dick Whittington style!
Even people who think they have no artistic talent would find they could picture something better than plain rags and fur to wear. They would fashion the material into something more attractive and they would teach their children how to do this and it would be passed on and improved upon from generation to generation.
That’s how we got to dressmaking courses, tailoring, theatrical costume and of course, fashion design.
Without art, our breakfast cereal packet would be a plain box, without even wording on it! Without art, we wouldn’t have a newspaper or magazine to read, or be reading this article here published by Starts at 60. There’d be no advertisements or billboards, or funny comics in the media or even comic books. Even though computer programs can create drawings and images, the conception of the image must come from the human mind.
Starts at 60 community writers Susan Gabriel-Clarke, Janice D’Ambra, Lyn Fletcher, Grace Macdonald and Judi Jagger contributed to this story.