As a society, we tend to place little importance on the arts and how they effect those who engage with them. No matter what the medium is, it is often seen as being less important than the more academic studies that are on offer to children whilst they grow up. Studies such as mathmatics and the sciences have often been highly encouraged by ministers in the past and promoted far and above as the essentials to a good education whilst the arts have in some cases been discouraged by those same people for presumably not being as important. During David Cameron's premiership, education minister Nicky Morgan once said that students should not look to take arts and humanities subjects for the fact that they "do not earn as much money". This is a true statement statistically speaking. Not only is it more likely that you will find a better paid job that caters to the more academic studies but you will also likely find a far more sustainable source of income under employment than if you were to work freelance or as your own boss as most who pursue a career in the arts have to be. It is not the fact alone that is the problem with this kind of statement but more the idea that children who are still developing their own interests and passions should place money and a future career over what they already enjoy doing. The core subjects of mathmatics, English and the sciences are seen as so much more essential to schools across the country, that it is often the case that those who are yet to discover a passion for certain other subjects never do because they simply are not given the time.
The arts carry with them great significance and, if good enough, pieces of work alone can define a whole period, whether that be the summer of one year or an entire decade. Landscape paintings can show not only a beautiful image but also a whole new perspective on what the particular artist can see as well. This is the case for many other forms of creative output. Music and fashion can distinguish periods of history from one another through the subtlety of time and invention. And then through this progression, certain melodies and fabrics can have as great an impact on somebody growing up as anything else in their life. Yet, I believe there is an even more impactful form of art and creative output which rarely gets the recognition it deserves... This is architecture.
Architecture, Ihave found, can have a significant impact on the people in the area. The overall aesthetic and feel of a building can even effect the happiness of those who live near it, prior research has suggested. People tend to find more joy in looking at structures that are more complex and unique rather than block-like buildings that can often appear soulless and devoid of character. Alain De Botton wrote on the subject of how architecture can affect the mood of the community around it in a book called,'The Architecture Of Happiness (2006)'. In this book he states that, "One of the great, but often unmentioned, causes of both happiness and misery is the quality of our environment: the kind of walls, chairs, buildings and streets we’re surrounded by." De Botton's work is a statement on how, in his view, society as a whole is yet to realise the great affects that modern architecture can have on people's mental wellbeing and that the way a building looks from both the interior and exterior should be seen as a far bigger priority than it currently is by architects and designers. This overall message I can completely agree with as it seems most reasonable to think that the kind of habitat we experience on a daily basis would quickly have an impact on our mental state and behavioural patterns. This whole concept of course ties into the more famous nature versus nurture debate in which I have come upon the conclusion that both aspects share equal responsibility regarding the upbringing of an impressionable mind. Nevertheless, each side still contributes greatly to the way in which a person may behave and act.
I think that the architects of today often place their own ego ahead of the area in which they are building. With this they disregard the voices of the locals of the area and create soulless voids of buildings, empty by both interior and exterior. Tower blocks continue to be thrown up in a rush just like they were back in the 1970s even with all the concerns raised by tenants who made it clear that they did not want to live in such a structure nor did they want to see the skylines of the home towns be swallowed whole by the miserable rectangle blotches of blocks of flats. Hopefully in the future the main message of men like De Botton will be shared by other architects and designers who will place the needs and preferences of the local people above their own ambitions but I fear that is unlikely to happen. After all, architects today gain their fame from designing unusual and strange looking buildings, hence bulstering their own self-importance in the process and getting them more work later on down the line. This is the cycle that has haunted much of our modern architecture now for the past six decades.