‘Gloria’ Acrylic on Canvas 41 x 41 cms
Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer married, Margaret Thatcher & Ronald Reagan were in power, high unemployment, riots in Brixton, Liverpool, Leeds & Birmingham, a general feeling of distrust amongst young people of police & authority, Bob Marley died, ‘Tainted Love’ by Soft Cell was No1., Adam & The Ants were showing us how to dress and I was leaving school and starting art college. Strange times. But I loved it.
In those days, going to art college was not about pass or fail, there was so much less stress, just enjoy what you’re doing, learn, explore, experiment and it was a relief to be with open minded people.
In the second week of the course they brought in a huge wire pen and dumped it and some chickens in the middle of the studio and said, “ By the end of the week we want you to have harnessed chickeness and we expect to see some great emotionally-charged drawings of chickeness” !!
As you may remember from ‘Artistic Seeds Are Sown’, I could draw you a chicken, riding a bike in a wetsuit but studying the real thing and trying to draw something that won’t keep still whilst all the time wondering what ‘chickeness’ is was an entirely new challenge!
By the end of the week I came away with some great and unexpected charcoal drawings of chickeness. The project was actually brilliant for loosening us all up and trying to get us to draw a feeling rather than an outline, it made us all more aware of mark-making rather than outline perfection. But by the end of the term I came away with the feeling that I wasn’t angry or disturbed enough to be an artist. At the time, that really seemed to be the requirement! I didn’t even try painting which of course I now regret.
I was so happy there though and I learnt a lot but we were there to make a decision about which area of the arts we were going to pursue. That was the whole point and like many things in my life, whilst trying my hardest to think of nothing but fun, the decision appeared in my mind, uninvited, from nowhere.
I was flying along on my bike on my way to college, the wind in my hair and my coat tails flapping behind me, enjoying the exhilaration and freedom I had for the first time in my life when my mind said to itself:
“ Fine art? Who are you kidding!?! Fashion & Textiles is who you are, it’s where you come from, Duh!! Why are you even considering anything else?”
And there lay the decision that affected the next 30 years of my life.
This weekend I hung these 2 recently finished paintings, ‘Gloria’ and ‘Pick ‘n’ Mix’, in my local town’s medical centre, Market Harborough. Although I live in the countryside now, have owned chickens and regularly have my neighbours chickens coming to eat my cabbages, I still think these paintings are strongly influenced by that week at Loughborough Art College searching for ‘chickeness’!!