What is Art For?


What is Art ‘for’?

When pondering recently ‘What is Art for?’, I came across a book by Alain de Botton, who set out the convincing argument that Art is a tool. Art performs a function that we cannot do for ourselves, much like using a knife due to our inability to cut things with our hands. Here are a selection of 5 things Art can help us with:

  • Remembering

Like our current obsession with taking photos of everything, art captures every detail of a particular moment, as our memories cannot be trusted to record everything. The artist decides which of the details to include and which to leave out. In doing this, they not only capture the experience, but also the essence of the moment.

Art as a Tool: a corrective of bad memory

  • Hope

In a world continually reminding us of all the sad things that are happening around us, it is important to have a tool to help us stay positive and hopeful. This category of art is the most popular and most frowned upon by the art world, as it comes across as frivolous and shallow. If we were all more hopeful, this category would not hold our interest or affect us the way that it does. For a good life, we need hope.

“Art is the highest form of hope” Gerhard Ritcher

Art as a Tool: a purveyor of hope

  • Sorrow

We have a tendency to lose hope easily and feel lonely in a sea of people. We have an unrealistic sense of how much difficulty is normal and think that sorrow cannot be part of a good life. Art highlights that we are all in this together, acknowledging our grief and allowing us to find meaning in sorrow.

Art as a Tool: a source of dignified sorrow

  • Rebalancing

Most of us are unbalanced – too scientific, too light hearted,  too trusting, too serious. Art that moves us, contains something that we are missing. That’s why we are all drawn to different types of art. Art reminds us of balance and offers to make us whole.

Art as a Tool: a balancing agent

  • Appreciation

Art reminds us of the value of what we have but have become desensitised to. A major cause of unhappiness is not appreciating what we already have. The minute to yourself for a cup of tea, the satisfaction of a well stacked dishwasher or completed jigsaw puzzle.

“ Art does the opposite of glamourising the unattainable; it can reawaken us to the genuine merit of life as we are forced to lead it.” Alain de Botton

Art as a Tool: a re-sensitising tool

Join us for Unity Art in Term 2, where we will explore ‘What is Art For?’.

We will follow inspiration found in this Blog by Marnie Latz’s on the work of Alain de Botton and John Armstrong in the book Art as Therapy and Blogging the process.

*Subscribe to our Blog to follow our journey this term!

We will look at art as a tool. In the book Art as Therapy de Botton and Armstrong outline seven functions of art; remembering, hope, sorrow, rebalancing, self-understanding, growth, appreciation.


We will be explore and make art on the following functions –

Session 1: Week 1 & 2

3/5 & 10/5: Remembering (bring along a picture to work from or a favourite memory)

Session 2: Week 3 & 4

17/5 & 24/5: Hope (create a visual representation of what brings you hope)

Session 3: Week 5 & 6

31/5 & 7/6: Sorrow (a cathartic release to create a unique work of art)

Session 4: Week 7 & 8

14/6 & 21/6: Rebalancing (art that moves us, contains something that we are missing.. what are you missing, what moves you? Create a work that moves you)

Session 5: Week 9 & 10

28/6 & 5/7: Appreciation (what do you value? Create a work inspired by what you value)


$27.50 casual rate

$50 for each session

$225 for the term

To register click here and select Unity Art from the Creative Arts section of our expression of interest form.

Link to register for UNITY ART in Term 2 2019 (select Unity Art from the Creative Arts options)

Link to Facebook Event for more information 


Leave a comment