Applying to Art School…Bath Academy of Art, Corsham

I don’t remember any career talks when I was in the sixth form. It was more or less left to the pupil and the family to find out for themselves. I was lucky as the school had sent one student each year for the previous two years to Corsham so a path ahead was already mapped for me (just as well as my father was preoccupied with courting various women!). I applied and received a letter asking me to send two drawings, one a self portrait and the other half a cabbage. I sweated hours over these drawings my life could depend on them. I was amazed and overjoyed when I was invited to attend an interview. My mother had been the first to drive in my family and it was only after the divorce that my father had to learn. He took a day off work to drive me there… for most of the way we followed the road below the Berkshire Downs passing our beloved White Horse. I do remember it as being the first time that my father and I had talked at any depth and I treasure it for that reason. Ironically it was the last time too. When I went to art school he remarried and he dismissed me from his life for ever which has remained a huge sorrow to me.

We stopped at the end of the drive to Corsham Court and to say that it took our breath away is an understatement. There were imposing gates then a driveway with lawns flanked with majestic Cedars of Lebanon. The air was filled with a strange sort of howling, the cries of the peacocks strutting about. It took a lot of courage to walk up to the imposing door on my own carrying my portfolio. Inside there was the sweep of a double staircase and someone waiting to guide me up to the library on the first floor. This was a beautiful room filled with wonderful books. I spent a lot of time in the library in subsequent years. Three people were sitting at a vast table, one of them was Clifford Ellis the Principal, I can’t remember the others. They were particularly taken with an Egyptian portrait that I had painted at home, highly influenced by the Ashmolean.

Shortly afterwards I got my letter of acceptance, I could hardly believe that I was going to spend my next two years in this magical place…me a girl from a council house! In the end it was three as I was chosen to do a third year.

This list was enclosed…Imperial and half imperial portfolios. Daler half imperial drawing board…T square, set square and ruler…4 inch palette knife…loose leaf notebook…set of lino tools and a handle…brushes no’s 3,5,7 and 9…sables no’s 3 and 8…crewel and sharp needles…These items are purchasable at the college shop. The approximate cost of the equipment that will last throughout your course is £5. The approx. cost of consumable materials such as paint, paper is £5 per term.

You will also need two pairs of scissors…strong penknife…hacksaw and blades…light hammer…tack removers…1 and 2 inch paint brushes such as Harris’s…2 enamel plates…Rucksack with straps or containers for carrying equipment…2 pairs of sheets, towels and pillowcases…2 working overalls…cutlery and coloured crockery…medical card…RATION BOOK (yes there was still rationing)…laundry book…one pair of unblocked ballet shoes (obtainable from Annello and Davide, 96 Charing Cross Rd. you can imagine what the male students thought about this!)…shorts or sports skirt…rubber soled plimsolls…plain black or navy blue regulation swim suit…one long sleeved white cotton wind cheater.

the following would be useful but not essential…Bicycle, the three establishments are several miles apart…any musical instrument.   PS> YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE SURVIVED WITHOUT A BICYCLE…BUT IT WASN’T EASY CARRYING ALL YOUR EQUIPMENT ABOUT ESPECIALLY IN BAD WEATHER.





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