Elitism: in the mind of the accuser

Whilst driving to visit a model railway exhibition, I was listening to the radio. I always enjoy listening to “Desert Island Discs”: the format is superb, the host (Kirsty Young) perfect for the role, and the guests are varied and interesting (although sometimes, not quite how they think they might be interesting!) The guest on Sunday 26 May, 2013, was the dancer Deborah Bull. Now, I will be honest: ballet and dance, like opera, are not my bag – but I suspect my life is the poorer for not really understanding them. However, it is always interesting to listen to someone who is among the best in their chosen profession.

It was an interesting and pleasant interview, but about two thirds of the way into the programme (round about 32 minutes if you wish to jump to the relevant part of the podcast), Ms. Bull said something which really caught my attention, in response to a gently provocative question about funding for what is seen by many as an “elitist” art-form:

“Arts are practiced by elite artists, but are not intended for an elite group of people… …Everyone has the right to expand beyond their immediate horizons.”


I don’t like the use of the word “right” in this context, preferring “opportunity”, but I have to say I agree wholeheartedly with her on this. It also applies to model railways. Just because my magazine of preference is the “Model Railway Journal”, just because I know some pretty outstanding modellers, just because I prefer to give honest feedback if someone asks for advice, in short just because I want to take the opportunity to be better and exchange ideas with others who wish to do this, doesn’t make me elitist.

I mean, why would anyone want to be a champion for mediocrity?

If you don’t, please do.

3 thoughts on “Elitism: in the mind of the accuser

  1. chrismears

    I enjoyed reading this. Working to finer scale tolerances or really toward any goal in the hobby and then accomplishing your goal is a thrilling feeling. I think it’s what drives the hobby’s success and continues to attract new modellers. The longer we work in the hobby the more skills we should be acquiring along the way and it’s thrilling to find an opportunity to apply that knowledge and to do so in a way that we can share our accomplishments with our friends.

    I think of fine scale modelling in those terms. I’ve always really enjoyed trying to be a modeller working toward finer scale tolerances. My approach isn’t borne out of any need to provide a comparative criticism of another modeller’s work but entirely out of my desire to challenge myself and to see what I can learn from attempting something new.

    1. Dunks Post author

      Exactly, Chris. It’s about the next model being better than the last. About being better than oneself, not better than anyone else.

      Thanks for commenting!


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