Joyous times.

There were so many things to discover about living here, it sometimes seemed as though I was on permanent  holiday. To be able to look out of the window at all hours and all weathers and see the sea was hardly believable … nov4pierwhole

This is how it looked when I arrived.

The scene was (and is)  continuously changing according to the tides, the weather the seasons. To get home from work in the summer and to be able to hop over the wall and swim or to paddle up to Hampton in the canoe was such a pleasure.


And then the walled garden, could it really be me living here? I loved working in the garden and we were give a five foot paper bark birch tree, which is now the height of the house.


My drawing of the garden. There was a double white lilac, sadly we had to cut it down to plant the birch tree.

The garden was south facing. We received the aluminium white chair and table as a present from the Senior Common Room, the perfect choice for a walled garden.

The events. There were so many things happening within a short distance of the house. Stevenage was OK but nothing much happened therein those days. Not long after we got here it was the carnival and I was off with my camera.


Oh dear…a bit suggestive (unconsciously)!

I had made some life size rod puppets for a political satire the year before and I opened the top floor window so that they could wave at people going by. I operated them unseen. Children used to look up and wave back.


At college I worked with the primary education students on different ways of working in 3D. We used garden wire, papier mache, cloth, very occasionally Mod Roc. If it was a figure I sometimes encouraged them to build a small environment around it. Often the little figures were related to stories. For those teaching nursery and 5-7’s I used scrap, boxes, paper etc.


For an experience of carving I bough cheap soap in bulk. I tried to get over the idea of simplicity, it’s no good trying to carve the Venus de Milo in a bar of soap. we looked at some of the carvings by the Inuit, using soap stone. They believe that every stone has a sculpture inside  it which you reveal by cutting away the least amount.


Students soap carvings.

I did a lot of work on display, when children make something in 2 or 3D it makes such a difference if it is mounted and displayed well, it gives a sense of pride in achievement, not only that their work deserves to be respected. I must admit I do like display to be kept as simple as possible so that it is the work you look at and not the artiness of the arrangement. Unless there is a very special reason for it I don’t like diagonals or complicated curves , anything that distracts from the work offends me!


Another huge plus for me was that Christchurch had a thriving music dept. Later when Grenville Hancox joined the dept. he allowed me, at my request, to join the college choir. We did the great choral pieces, the requiems, Verdi, Faure. oratorios, Elijah, the Christmas Oratorio…Bernstein etc. Another bonus was that we were able to perform them in the cathedral, a glorious setting but with a hideous acoustic.

Nov4 HBsunsetnov4fathom

Right. Sunset from my window. Textile   Right. detail.. Full Fathom Five. Illustration

As to my own work I was mainly drawing and doing black and white photography… I had very little time for anything serious. Of course you are longing to have time to develop your own ideas, but that’s just it, ideas need time to stew around a bit before you begin and they come to fruition and that time you don’t have, even in the vacation. The snag is that art teaching requires a lot of imaginative thinking in the way that that you approach it, you have to be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes to be able to help them take the next the next creative step, or provide exactly the right stimulus. I think back to Corsham, they knew where to send me in my development, when to step in and when to step back. Empathy, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes was what prompted me to start writing this piece in the first place ! Art teaching is a creative act in itself but not one that you can hang on a wall!

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