Art Pulse

Outside-of-The-Box Inspiration: #Chatswoof

I have begun to see crafty canines and painted pups everywhere. It’s the nature of being on the Art Dog team: a heightened awareness of artsy dogs and dog-related art. This doesn’t go away, even on vacation! I stumbled upon the largest, most extravagant Art Dog themed event I could have imagined: The Dog, an exhibition at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England that took place in spring of 2019. Chatsworth is home to the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and has been passed down through 16 generations of the Cavendish family. A museum and historical landmark, it is located in the Peak District of England.

“This exhibition explores the Cavendish family’s enduring love for dogs, through paintings, drawings, sculptures, letters, photographs and contemporary art. We’ve sniffed out all of our favourite stories, capturing the idiosyncratic, faithful, endearing and playful character of man’s best friend.”

Obviously, I had to check it out. Were parts of the exhibition geared slightly towards children? A little. Did I still participate and fully enjoy a scavenger hunt, complete with hints tied to a stuffed animal in every room and collectible cards that I took home with me? Yes, I did. 

A little stuffed pup who had a clue attached to his collar for visitors in game of doggy “I Spy”

Throughout the exhibit, I couldn’t help but think about our new Children’s and Gift collections, and how the curators of this over the top, fancy mansion in the middle of the English countryside really tuned into the fun, kid aspect of the artistic space. As I was appreciating ancient marble sculptures, ornate paintings and and the varied presence of The Dog throughout art history, I also noticed how the curators made the space welcoming and engaging for children and families.

Here were some of my favorite pups:

Two doggy friends play (or groom?) and a Judge serves justice
A stoic poodle by Jeff Koons, metal sculptures nosing around a drawing room

Interactive Activities

In addition to the rich history and unique artwork throughout Chatsworth House, there were additional items in a modern style gallery that had been built into the house. The gallery was full of interactive activities that would not be out of place at any art supply store, easily nestled in a children’s section or popping up for a in-store gallery opening.

Above: a heartwarming (and at times sad) activity where visitors write about or draw their childhood dog and add their memory to the dog-shaped silhouette.

Design your own dog and guess the breed! I wonder how these might be transformed into some kind of Make n’ Take…

Above: A book section with a comfy couch beneath it, inviting people to bookmark their favorite parts and write down messages about their love of dogs. On the right, these small 3”x3” portraits of dogs in the Chatsworth House wallpapered an entire wall of the gallery. Every top notch event has a proper hashtag. Even better if the phrase is something clever: the exhibit invited visitors to snap pics of their dogs on the grounds with the hashtag #Chatswoof.

Out of The Ordinary

I am noticing a pattern recently when it comes to successful events, inspiring artistic experiences and strong independent businesses. Out of the ordinary experiences and unique combinations. Multimedia art dogs, a DIY Fashion Week with staff designers and models, real life reindeer on the streets of San Francisco. These out of the box experiences make a lasting impression and infuse a spirit of creativity that online shopping simply can’t provide. People scroll through their phones looking for some kind of satisfaction but it is a matter of convenience. As leaders in the creative materials industry, it’s our job to notice this, in relation to everything else we are tackling on a daily basis. It’s our job to stand back, look at the big picture and see solutions where we never thought to look before. Museums, theme parks, a particularly eccentric birthday party. Clues for creative engagement are sprinkled everywhere; we just have to open our eyes to the unusual and be ready to take notes!

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