I recently went to an exhibition of Elaine Turnbull's paintings at Gallery 49 in Old Bridlington (Would heartily recommend going- it's on until the middle of July. See http://www.galleryforty-nine.com). I found myself utterly mesmorised by her use of simple colours, shapes and a childlike naivety. Not everyone's cup-of-tea I know, but for me there is an immediate, almost spiritual reaction to the way she paints. I can understand why some people experience seizures when they look at certain paintings (I think they can trigger epileptic fits!) There is an emotional and physical reaction. I can feel my heart rate increase. But why? Why do we find certain combinations of colours and shapes beautiful or disturbing, or certain combinations of audio frequencies pleasing? If our lives are all about survival of the fittest and evolution has honed our senses to respond in 'useful' ways, where does art come into this? How does it help us to survive? Was there ever an instance where man saved himself from being eaten by a hungry sabre-tooth by quickly rattling off a few bison sketches? Did our appreciation of having a deep orange placed next to a phtalo blue ever help us to find food? I know snakes can be charmed by music, but would it work on a charging rhino?
Is it possible that all these things are just a wonderful gift, with no other purpose than to enrich our lives?