If a tree falls in a forest…

…and nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

A tree falls, do you hear it?

A tree falls, do you hear it?

If I place a piece of art in a forest and nobody is around to see it, is it art?

In other words: does art need to be seen to be art? Or at least, does art need to be in a ‘place of display’ and seen by many as opposed to in back alley behind my house and seen by few, if any, to be art?

I’ve just stumbled across this article on the BBC website about ‘hidden’ art in the North East of England which provokes just that thought: does art need people to give it value and is the relationship upwardly proportional (i.e. the more people, the more value)?

The article is about a number of sculptures that have been placed in and around the North East of England, fairly well hidden, and asks: what is the point of ‘tucking art away’?

For example this very large spoon is quite difficult to locate. It was placed just outside Newcastle in the North East for England in 2006 as part of a lottery-funded project.

Big spoon in the countryside

Big spoon in the countryside

The article argues that perhaps part of the appreciation of art is in the lack of expectation of art  rather than the expectation

This idea adds a new dimension to the notion of ‘site specificity’. The remoteness of the placement of an artwork becomes part of the artwork. The secret nature of discovery becomes part of the experience

Another good example is Kenneth Armitage’s hand sculpture, Reach for Stars, which used to be hidden between two buildings, down a cul-de-sac in Newcastle. It became somewhat of a secret treasure for people who happened to stumble across it.

Reach for the stars

Reach for the stars

Such hidden artworks give something to the otherwise mundane and easily over-looked surroundings in which they are placed. They somehow animate what was inanimate. They make the ordinary extra ordinary.

The giant hand has in fact recently disappeared and will reappear in front of Gloucester Cathedral. How will its change of location change its impact? It will go from being enclosed to being exposed. It will go from being secret to known.

It reminds me of when I am out and about with my camera, looking for beauty in unexpected places and in the ordinary and over-looked.

These artists are exploiting that sense of curiosity I have and that sense of achievement I get when I find such beauty.


Williams, F. 24 August 2014 ‘Hidden Art: North Eastern sculpture you have to hunt out’. Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-27802724 [last accessed 4 September 2014]

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