Job 2 – Art Student

First Presentation – a Flop. 1963 to 1964
I went off to St Martin’s School of Art in London to do a foundation year, pre- a diploma course in FINE ART. My art teacher at school, Bob Spearman, suggested I applied. He was a kind man, concerned that these youths from working-class backgrounds should try something a bit outside their family prescription; a bit outside the expectations of their milieu, when they left the grammar school.
I enjoyed my year at art school, I was stimulated by the work and was very disappointed when at the end of the year I was not accepted on the fine art diploma course.
I was not accepted because acceptance was on the basis of a display of work, that you presented in a folder. This was something that I had no experience of whatever and my presentation was a terrible mess. I had been assigned a tutor who by my misfortune turned out to be an incompetent drunk, so his advice was entirely wrong, but in the absence of anyone else to give me advice I believed him.
So I got discarded, and I still remember this with annoyance, not least because a number of the more determined students had said how highly they thought of my work, and how surprised they were that I of all people should fall by the wayside. The rejection of the gippo, I was angry and disappointed, but deep down I could see the reasons why.
And on the other hand, when I look back and see how much more I have done, how artistically stimulated I have been; art is not what pictures you paint, it is how you express yourself. I could have spent a lifetime producing colourful images and for what? Instead I became a living embodiment of art, influencing people – some people anyway – to indulge in the science of seeing.
In life there are Y-junctions and it is often intriguing to wonder what might have happened had you gone down the other branch. Impossible to know, because you didn’t. But my speculation on the Y-branch that through circumstance I did not take in this particular case, feels like it might have been less fun than the one that I did.

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