How art can help you unplug from the modern world and recharge

Picture: Gallery Different
Picture: Gallery Different
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Promoted by Edinburgh Art Fair

In our fast-paced world, it can be all too easy to forget to press the pause button.

Trying to juggle work, family, friends, binge-watching the trending TV shows and finding time to exercise can all equal overwhelm when time isn't factored in to step back and just simply be.

Eduardo Alessandro Studios

Eduardo Alessandro Studios

Art is the perfect antidote for stress and screen-addiction in the age of Instagram, when experiences are so often diluted to how many likes they can garner online. Moseying around the exhibits at the Edinburgh Art Fair (EAF), held over a weekend at the end of November in the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, could be just the ticket for winding right down.

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Art can even help transform negative moods to positive ones, according to organiser Mike Smith: "Art makes us slow down, think and imagine. A piece of art can transport us emotionally."

Tapping into global art movement, Slow Art Day, set up in 2010 to help encourage people to slow right down and make discoveries in individual pieces of art that would have remained unseen with a quick fly-by, Mr Smith invites visitors to EAF to look at at five art pieces for at least five minutes.

Eduardo Alessandro Studios

Eduardo Alessandro Studios

He said: "Art can be viewed as a conversation between you and the artist - ask yourself what the artist wants you to feel, imagine and think. Ask what's your personal response to this - does it work, [are there] any unexpected reactions, either positive or negative?"

Mike Smith believes that reflecting on a painting, sketch, photograph or sculpture doesn't require capturing it for posterity and posting it on a social media platform. While it can be valuable to view art online if you can't access it in person, standing in front of a piece and allowing yourself to be overtaken by any sensory experiences is much more fulfilling.

"Properly experiencing an artwork might take a while and can require uninterrupted attention, removed from technology," He said. "Viewing the images on screen won't be half as good as in real life. Being present is maybe more important."

Most of us have heard of stress-reduction techniques like meditation and mindfulness but did you know that these practices can be accessed through the relaxing act of taking in art?

Art, like meditation, can help us pause when we are caught up in negative thoughts and emotions by creating space between the false narrative and encouraging us to break free from the incessant mind chatter and connect with a more quiet current that runs through us all.

Graeme Nixon, senior lecturer at Aberdeen University and programme director of the Studies in Mindfulness Msc, agrees. He said: "The relationship between art and mindfulness is mutual, one can be conditional for the other. Mindfulness is a tool to allow people to escape from habitual patterning in the face of modern technology and the multiple demands on attention that distracts us.

"Mindfulness encourages you to make some space between yourself and your experience and art can be a good way in to slow down and see what is in front of us, to look at it as it actually is and ask what it is saying to you."

Edinburgh Art Fair is sponsored by BTO Solicitors and is held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange, 23 - 25th November. For more information go to