Word for Wednesday: Art

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In the limelight this week for various reasons is a word that encompasses almost all human achievements; a word that has come to represent our creativity and our desire to explore and progress.


Today we are in a social climate where art completely surrounds us, whether we like it or not. The paintings of masters, the music of the greats, the work of our finest writers and the world’s most incredible buildings can all be accessed with the click of a mouse and, finance permitting, in ‘the flesh’ by travelling abroad.

But what is art?

Unfortunately, to many, the word art conjures up an image of pretentiousness, luxury and controversy. A quick look in to the meaning of the word should dispel this misconception:

Etymology Online defines art as ‘skill as a result of learning or practice’, by this definition aren’t we all artists?

The word stems from the Latin ‘artem’ meaning a work of art or practical skill. Furthermore, there are a handful of interesting variants in Greek: ‘arti’ meaning ‘just’ and ‘artios’ meaning ‘complete’.

Does art ‘complete’ us? Where would we be without the cultural arts of music, writing, cooking, architecture and literature? How would we develop without the art of inventor or the scientist?

In my opinion ‘art’ has one of the broadest meanings in the English language. Can you think of anything that doesn’t involve art at some level?

Hugh MacDermott


24 Apr 2013
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