Art as Therapy – whether you succeed or fail is entirely in your own hands

Edward BURNE-JONES
The Wheel of Fortune (1871-1885)
oil on canvas
151.4 x 72.5 cm
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1909
381-2

Philosophers Alain de Botton and John Armstrong of The School of Life have created the Art as Therapy Tour at the NGV. The self-guided tour of selected works from the NGV Collection includes special captions that challenge our assumptions about ourselves, society and how we view art in galleries. Here, they look at Edward Burne-Jones’
The Wheel of Fortune (1871-1885)  and propose that whether you succeed or fail is entirely in your own hands.

 

Whether you succeed or fail is entirely in your own hands.

 

This picture is a corrective to our obsession with control, responsibility and self-determination. It’s not that these are useless obsessions, far from it. Precisely because they are so important they run the risk of being overstated, and hence of being oppressive and false. Edward Burne- Jones invokes the idea of the wheel of fortune to remind us that we have less control over our lives than we like to imagine.

We do not get to choose our parents or where we are born, and we don’t control the wider currents of our society, which may suddenly have little interest in our skills or become unsympathetic to things we hold dear. Successes that we suppose are entirely due to our own efforts might in fact have quite a bit to do with luck. Failure, conversely, might not always be entirely due to our own mistakes.

 

 

Work Located at NGV International Level 2. Art as Therapy works are identified on the map available for download in pdf format and online from the mobile site by choosing a topic and selecting a proposition to consider.

 

The NGV Publication Art a Therapy is available from the NGV Shop and online.

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