The Three Important Functions of Art-Works

  1. An art-work can be anything. In whatever form it takes it always points to an existant.
  2. What are art-works for? People bring them into existence for many reasons, but after they are made and shared, they no longer belong to their maker. They become things that can have a function for homo sapiens.
  3. Reasons are not the same as functions.
  4. Art-work makers who do not recognise their responsibilities typically produce art-works that do not have any function for other homo sapiens. As such they do not expressly have a purpose and therefore contribute little more than noise to existence. The greater part of all art-works that is displayed in galleries have this functionless property, because most homo sapiens, let alone art-work makers do not recognise or accept their responsibilities.
  5. Art-works are hard to produce, but it is not hard to enrich them with a function. A function gives an art-work purpose, it validates its existence and prevents it from being regarded as noise.
  6. A function of an art-work is a purposeful benefit its existence confers upon at least one homo sapien. Its function answers the question "What is it for?", to which we may reply, "It has a function".
  7. When the function of an art-work is clear, homo sapiens rarely ask "What is it for?".
  8. All of the functions are important; a gift to homo sapiens. Without a function, no art-work can be regarded as important. Importance is a measure of the application of responsibility through the utility of an important function known as worth; an art-work maker who brings a function to their work can make important work.
  9. The importance of an art-work is entirely separate from the importance of its maker. However, the pattern holds that an art-work maker who cannot accept their responsibilities cannot be important.
  10. If you wish to make important art-works, you need to make sure it has at least one of the below functions. If it has a function which is not one of the below functions, it cannot be important.
  11. An art-work maker who takes responsibility, who imbues their work with one or more important functions and who still does not produce a gift may be considered in training. To them give all your love and hard critique.

The Three Important Functions of Art-Works

 This diagram should be read as three equal and overlapping statements. It is the result of years of labour, reflection and distillation and is completely open to revision and your suggestions. I have been searching for a forth circle for at least three years at the time of writing and no one has suggested anything that I believe is distinct enough to stand alone and in harmony with the other three. Nor have a found either viable descriptors for the overlaps or centre, and heartily propose serious discussion as to their definition.

As a whole, I perceive all art-works to point to an existant, which can be one or many things that exists. All art-works can be anything. If a thing can be anything, it can also be everything. I call everything the Universe, some people call it God, some people call it Art. As such, I see it that the important functions of art-works draw our attention to the most important parts of existence; it cuts through the noise. The point of this, in light of all our imminent deaths, is to make life worth living; that it may be wonderous and full of love and knowledge and health and beauty.


I originally had this circle labelled "illustration", but illumination says it better. An art-work that illuminates, has the function of brightly demystifying the Universe. It encompasses all learning and wisdom. As such, scientific enquiry, long considered to be at odds with art-work making, is in fact an excellent example of an art-form that can help us understand what is going on in the Universe. Poetry can also provide us with knowledge and insight, but via peripheral vision and the abstract. Nonetheless, the objective is the same. As we age and the more we understand our own responsibilities to ourselves and to others, the more we are able to impart our wisdoms, to bring insight to struggles and resolve to our continuation for as long as it lasts. Illumination is the lights switching on, where you find you are not alone in the room.


If it makes you feel good, what's not to like? Learning can help us feel better, as can beauty. Therapy almost always includes aspects of the other two circles. Think of an art-work that is important to you. How does it make you feel? Even if it brings to you a sense of solidarity in your mutual rage, it can be therapeutic. Demystification can provide solace and healing, as can a magnificent garden. I find it interesting that the therapeutic fact of responsible art-work making and the gifts it confers upon homo sapiens is so often rejected by makers who desire to live without responsibility.

Why do we need therapy? Because we're trashing the joint. I know I cannot destroy or make Nature, I know that we will all die soon, I know I did not ask to be born, but life must be worth living or else end it. And I do like life and so I want it to be worth living and that means working towards picking up the trash, healing the wounds of the land and its people.


I originally had this circle labelled "decoration", but beauty, despite being overloaded with distorted significance in homo sapien cultures says it better. Music is found here, and dance. A photo of a landscape, or a wonderful chair, or the large part of cinematography. There is much beauty to be found. When I consider this function, I think of a toothbrush which could easily be described as functional, but is almost never considered beautiful. But neither is a hammer beautiful in a shallow sense, until you marvel at the vaulted ceiling, the green-wood fence. If a thing functions to produce beauty in some way, according to any subjective opinion or value, it can be both an art-work and important and therefore have worth.

Beauty is also interesting because it includes all of existence and as such is another name for it, along with Art, Nature and God etc. To those art-work makers who refuse to take responsibility, who persist in producing noise that is a disturbance to the grace of our final days, I beg you down-tools and find more worthy pursuit strolling up mountains and swimming in rivers, or partying with your lovers.

And if you are filled with doubt, or have stopped making your work despite being in full knowledge of its function in bringing worth to humanity, if you are stuck, or lost or exhausted, come back to these three functions, reduce it right back. Remember that these are things that you need to be in place before you can do anything. That's why at the confluence of these important functions, we find Responsibility.

Graeme Walker 2014-18

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