The Students

The majority of the students were girls straight from sixth forms but there was a sizeable contingent of women that had had their families and were now wanting to return to  rewarding work, the rest were mostly young men. Surprisingly the mix worked very well. The younger ones got some stability from the older students and the older ones benefited from the vivacity of the young people.

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                                    Making a cane former for a piece of work

In all the years that I have worked in further education I have enjoyed the initial interview with students. At Hockerill and Christchurch we interviewed all applicants for about thirty minutes. Interviewing art students is rather special because they bring their folio of art work with them. I used my tutorial room where they could spread their work on the floor and I could talk to them about it. For most of them it was a new experience, having someone that had not taught them being interested, looking, asking questions and as a fresh eye seeing possible links between pieces that they had never noticed.

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I inherited ten third year students, twelve in the second year, and another ten in the third year. I was never to have such luxury again as during my time the numbers crept up. You could fall victim to your own success because if students liked what you were doing more would take the course. The space was not big enough for too many, it also meant that you could not give solo tutorials.

oct28studdrawingSketch book drawing. Sketch books were an integral part of the course. It was in these books that ideas were tested and developed. These books using drawing in all its forms were an important part of the final assessment.

The degree course was under the auspices of Cambridge University Institute of Education when I arrived but for evermore after that first year there were continuous academic board meetings in both colleges to try to get accredited with other institutions. It took up SO much time because you were always having to write papers of justification about proposed courses to be submitted for approval. Sad to say but it was exactly the same at Christchurch later on. When I was first at Christchurch our degrees were awarded by the University of London. The proposal was that we should change to the University of Kent. No one wanted that to happen because London was more prestigious. However we did eventually go to Kent until eventually they won the right to award their own degrees. How I hated all the politics of academia. It took up far too much time that you should have been devoting to your students.Oct28phoetus                                                 Phoetus Construction.

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It was also 1968 and the student demonstrations and sit ins had started. In the art dept we never had any trouble but there was a bad conflict between the student body and the principal with bad feeling on both sides. I always belonged to a union and did my stint on the committees, Alice Eden , the principal, was very suspicious of the union.

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Hornsey Art School Sit in. The Students hold a mock funeral for the end of the riot

(Aside) When I taught at the grammar school one of my art students was Jane Perryman, I have already mentioned that she is now a world famous potter. She left school to go to Hornsey to study ceramics. Whilst there she met and married Kim Howells, and both of them were at the forefront of the groundbreaking revolution there. Later they divorced, Kim Howells went on to become a minister in the Labour government. Incidentally the work that Jane does now is exactly the opposite to the way she was taught at Hornsey. I went to her final degree show at Alexandra Palace. She had made slip cast cups and saucers with transfer designs on them, when I asked how they were made she said that the technician did most of it, I was disappointed. She now specialises in outdoor firings, raku etc, it couldn’t be more spontaneous and different.

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                                       This piece from all my experience of Tresco.

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On the left. Rock Pool. Sea Anenomes.Dyed Jute.             On the right …The General. Large hanging, sisal and silk. (detail) from my drawings of ritual and status clothing.

I did have more time during the vacations for my own work. I had my first one man show at the Gallery attached to the Gordon Craig Theatre. Interestingly in those days I rarely thought about photographing work. I am almost as bad today. Of course it means that I have no very little record of things that were sold.. I do remember that I sold a couple of religious paintings of Palm Sunday to a convent, I wonder where they are now!I was trying to paint on a monumental scale, under the influence of Piero, whose work I loved (still do)

 

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