The 9 types of people that can be found attending an art exhibition

By Shannon Wilson

1. Free-Loading Students

There is free wine and free food. Any event with that combination is bound to have at least a couple of budget-minded students milling about. This is not to say that these students are only there to indulge in the free spread. They do look at the art placed on the pristine white walls. They tilt their heads as they gaze into the pictures, still tightly holding that glass of free wine; hoping that they fit in and perhaps even look a bit cultured.

The delicious food at art exhibitions.

The delicious food at some art exhibitions.

Students looking at the art with their heads tilted gazing at the art.

Students looking at the art with their heads tilted gazing at the art.

2. The studious students

Then there is the other group of students – ‘the over-achievers’ – the ones who attend to absorb knowledge. They tend to walk around with a sketchbook and they take their time looking at each picture. These students are not usually found with a glass of wine in their hands. No, these students take seriously the art on display, trying to decipher the meaning behind each delicate (or, in some cases, not so delicate) brush stroke.

A dedicated student with her large notebook.

A dedicated student with her large notebook.

3. Lecturers

Teachers of all kinds can be found at exhibitions: lecturers, schoolteachers, and professors. These individuals tend to have a wide range of pastimes that pique their curiosities. Most attend exhibitions for the simple pleasure of enjoying the artwork that has been produced. They are usually dressed relatively formally and will probably have a glass of wine or two.

Art history lecture Laura de Harde in conversation.

Art history lecture Laura de Harde in conversation.

4. Artists

Fellow creators are sure to be there to support or check out the competition. However, artists have their own unique styles and so it is unlikely they are here exclusively for this reason. This particular group of people will, in most cases, have a glass of wine and spend a lengthy amount of time looking through the art and speaking to companions on techniques used in the creative process. The artists will usually be among the last to leave the event.

People chatting at an exhibition.

People chatting at an exhibition.

5. Journalists

Yep. At any exhibition, and most especially in Grahamstown, you will definitely spot a journalist or two. These reporters will generally have some kind of recording device with them, from notebooks to high-tech filming equipment. They are present to squeeze as much news out of the event as they can. Some are there because, well, it is an assignment requirement and they want to graduate. So off they go to the art exhibition where, with great happiness, they discover that there is wine. On a rare occasion, there will be some that go because they are passionate about art; relaying the intricate details of an exhibition to the public so that they too can be inspired.

Caution: these people could be holding cameras ready to snap away at you while you are devouring the last of the free cheese and crackers.

A journalist speaking to the artist Lindi Lombard.

A journalist speaking to the artist Lindi Lombard.

6. Children

Shame. These poor kids are dragged along to the exhibition with their parents because it is a nice family outing or they couldn’t find a babysitter for the evening. Either way, the children do not understand why they are there. The art means little or nothing to them and they can be found sitting in a corner or tugging on mom or dads’ trousers begging to go home.

A child at an exhibition looking rather bored.

A child at an exhibition looking rather bored.

7. Parents

The moms and dads that live work and raise their children here in Grahamstown. They most often can be seen with big smiles on their faces as they catch up with friends and family from around the small town. The dads can often be seen sporting a baby bag, carrying out their fatherly duties.

Parents in discussion at an exhibition.

Parents in discussion at an exhibition.

8. The elderly

The old folk attend to truly enjoy the culture that art has to give. They meander through all the different paintings, photographs and sculptures usually with a plate of food at hand; honestly commenting on the elements of the piece that they like or dislike. The men are most commonly dressed in khaki pants and a striped shirt of some sort. The ladies are dressed in light, flowing shirts. These kind souls often question you on your thoughts. “What do you think deary? Very modern, hey?”

A couple looking at the art on display.

A couple of people looking at the art on display.

9. The artist (obviously)

Yes. The artist that has his or her work up on the walls for everyone to see is there. They have the toughest task of all. To smile and chat calmly to everyone while thinking: ‘Do they really like it? Is there enough food and wine left?’ The artist will usually look quite exceptional – with it being their special night and début, it’s natural that they made an effort to shine.

Lindi Lombard at her art exhibition.

Lindi Lombard at her art exhibition.

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