IELTS Speaking topic - arts 1

IELTS Speaking topic – Arts #1

This is a sample response for IELTS Speaking Part 2 and 3. In addition to the model answer there are highlighted words and phrases. Teal is for vocabulary relating to this topic, yellow is for generally useful words and phrases.

IELTS Speaking Part 2

Describe a visit to a museum or a gallery that you didn’t enjoy
You should say:

  • what was the place
  • who you went with
  • what kind of exhibits it had

and explain why you didn’t enjoy the visit

Model answer

When I was 12 my parents decided that I needed more exposure to fine arts. We picked a day and boarded a train to the nearest city which held an exhibition of both traditional and contemporary art. To this day it puzzles me why they took me there since they had no understanding or interest in art themselves.

Anyway, the gallery had around two hundred exhibits from all parts of our country. It was probably the biggest art showcase to date that the city had ever seen. You could tell that it was quite a hit with tourists – there were plenty of foreigners there. Still life, portrait, landscape drawings – they were all there, some more traditional, others morbid and confusing.

The reason I didn’t like it much was the absence of any guidance. There were no visual or audial prompts explaining the pictures, no person taking you through the exhibition, nothing. There were just the names of the pictures and their authors. I firmly believe that all art is highly contextual and cannot be fully comprehended without going deeper into the history of its making.

IELTS Speaking Part 3

Importance of art

Is art necessarily a good thing?
This is a rather big question to address in just a few sentences! In short – yes, art is a good thing. Art is evocative – that is, it makes us feel in a certain way, it promotes imagination and encourages abstract thinking. It shows us the beautiful side of life, for the most part. Some art can try to achieve the opposite – be provocative and ugly in order to appeal to our senses. Of course there are examples when art can be tasteless and even revolting. Thankfully such cases are quite rare.

How can young people be made more interested in art?
Making younger generation more engaged with the world of art is an uphill battle. Youngsters nowadays have a very short attention span thanks to smartphones – they seek immediate gratification. Most forms of art require analysis, introspection and patience. Perhaps music is one of the few types of art teenagers can show genuine interest in. Of course, there is always the film industry, with some of the movies specifically targeted at younger audiences. However, if we talk about higher forms of art such as sculpture, we need to foster interest starting from primary school.

Why do people attend museum, art galleries, music concerts?
There is a multitude of reasons for that. Surprisingly, for many it’s socialising – meeting fellow art enthusiasts, that is. After all, it is better to appreciate beauty with somebody else. Some say that seeing or hearing something live is a whole different experience. That’s why people flock to music concerts, festivals and other such performances to see if it’s true. Many are in for a shock when they find out how live sound can be very different from studio recording!

Art and history

What do you believe to be the greatest piece of art in human history?
Of all the multitude of fine pieces created throughout recorded human history I’d pick “The Blue Rider” by Kandinsky. I believe that this work is the pinnacle of the school of impressionism – the movement where the form is supposed to convey the emotions and feelings rather than literal visual information. The colour choice is superb, the composition is beautifully arranged, the picture feels rapid, alive, evocative. It’s a shame many people don’t give enough credit to this particular artist and his contribution to the craft.

How has art in your country changed compared to the past?
The umbrella term of “modern art” that encompasses the the shift in art paradigm is probably shared among most countries in the world. In short, art has become much less visually appealing with the idea of the message as the more important component. This is a concerning trend as many artists stray away from the fundamentals of art – showing the beauty of nature, the human body and celebrating life itself. Instead, the newest development seems to be to try and evoke the strongest possible emotions – anger, disgust, lust. Although this is not a dominant art direction, it has definitely become more pronounced lately.

What other art forms are we likely to see in the future?
I’d say we will see more digitalised versions of the more traditional art forms – pictures, sculptures, pieces of music. The change might focus around the idea of owning an intangible version of any particular piece – possessing it in the computer world rather than the real. We can see it nowadays with so-called NFTs selling for millions of dollars – an unthinkable amount of money, especially since you don’t even get to touch them! 

Art vocabulary

Fine arts – any kinds of visual art e.g. sculpture or painting
Exhibition (n) – a collection of art items (exhibits) shown at a special place either for a charge of for free
Contemporary (adj) – connected to the current period, the period we live in
Showcase (n) – see exhibition. Showcase can also mean a container with something valuable protected by glass
Still life – a picture of a table with some objects on it such as food or flowers
Landscape (n) – a picture of land, woods and other terrain
Evocative (adj) – producing images in your head through strong association with something
Introspection – the process of thinking and analyzing within yourself
Appreciate (v) – to be grateful for something, to truly understand how much something is worth (not necessarily about money)
Flock to – gather around or rush to something in great numbers
The pinnacle of – the top of, the best of something
Convey (v) – to give or transmit some message

General vocabulary

Exposure (n) – familiarity or experience of something
Morbid (adj) – strange in an unpleasant and worrying way
Prompt (n) – a tip, a hint or guidance
Contextual (adj) – relating to the whole, working only as a part of the whole rather than in an isolated way
Appeal to – to request, ask or address
Revolting (adj) – making you feel very negatively, esp. in a disgusting way
Engage with – to interact or connect with something
Uphill battle – a situation that is difficult to deal with and requires lots of mental and physical effort
Attention span – how much time one can keep focus before losing it by getting bored or distracted
Immediate gratification – getting a positive effect from something immediately. For example eating a candy you feel sweetness at once, whereas reading a complex book can take hours or days to enjoy.
Target at (v) – to choose something as aim for some action
Foster (v) – to encourage, to promote
To be in for – to be in a situation where something (good or bad) is likely to happen to you but you don’t know this yet
Give credit to smb. – to acknowledge somebody’s efforts or contribution to something
Umbrella term – a general term for many different things. For instance ‘dolphins’ is an umbrella term that includes river and sea dolphins, orcas and others.
Encompass (v) – to include
Celebrate (v) – (here) to honour or praise publicly
Intangible (adj) – something that you can’t touch because it does not exist in the physical world.

PDF Click to download this IELTS Speaking worksheet in PDF