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The shart of the matter

30 Jul 2006 / 0 Comments / in about art, going off on one

Each to their own and all that, but it never ceases to amaze me just what tat people buy! You know what I mean – the useless ornamental tat with no discernable tasteful qualities of any kind.

Take a look at this for example! This isn’t a joke. It’s the Moonlit Splendour Dolphin Figurine. Mmm!

Why would anyone want it? Why would anyone think that anyone else might want it? Who commissioned its manufacture?! Every week we buy the cheapest TV listings guide. And in it, every week this company advertise their wares.

Their copywriters do a marvellous job of promoting their products, crafting breath-taking text to persuade people of the loving care taken it the products’ manufacture, the meaningful sentiment behind every delicate feature and the quality and value of each item. It’s both brilliant and nauseating. And it never fails to make me laugh out loud.

This week in our TV pages I saw advertised the ‘Elvis Presley Illuminated Rotating Tree’, complete with persuasive sales copy which reads:
“… Elvis’ … generous holiday spirit and warm, sparkling charm is lovingly evoked in this exclusive, first-ever illuminated collectable porcelain tabletop Elvis Presley Christmas tree!”
It may be the ‘first-ever illuminated collectable porcelain tabletop Elvis Presley Christmas tree’ for a very good reason.

Am I being a snob? Yes, almost certainly. Why shouldn’t people buy what the hell they want with their hard-earned money! Yes, of course they should! But I wonder why people think that buying a
‘Purr-fect Companion Heart Shaped Keepsake Cat Pendant Necklace’ for £59.97 might give greater long-term satisfaction than buying a hive of bees to provide honey and wax for a family in Africa for only £40. I know what would mean more to me – and to the family in Africa trying to scratch a living.

I’m left with an awkward conundrum. Given that my paintings -and indeed any painting- often serves no useful function, might they too be regarded as useless tasteless tat? Yes, perhaps.

I have a word for tat that claims to be art. I call it shart. You can probably guess from which two words this one word is made. There are many kinds of shart; you can go from tacky shart, like seaside souvenir ‘snowstorms’, to fine shart, like those hideous oil paintings of woodland glades daubed on with a palette knife in a formulaic manner. Ach! I’m reaching for the sick bucket just thinking about it!

You may know people who have shart in their homes. You may even have some yourself. Some people may think that I have some in my home. In the end what is and isn’t shart is down to personal taste. But I suspect many of us would consider the Elvis Presley Illuminated Rotating Tree a prime example of ornamental shart.

If that makes me a complete snob, then it’s a label I willingly accept.

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