Back in the 1960s, having left school and started out in the world, one of the first discoveries that I made was about Art, and going to college for it.
I went to a modern College of Art and Technology in East London. These were fashionable in those days and could eventually lead to a degree in Engineering or Art, if you'd otherwise opted out of 'A' levels as I had. The 'art' at these colleges was slanted very much towards the commercial end of the subject, art for design, advertising, theatre and so on.
Straightaway the daily routine at college made me question the decision I'd made to embark on engineering as a career. The timetable went something like this:
8:40 - arrive at college, for lessons to start at 8:45 sharp. College pretty empty at that time.
10:30 - nip down to the canteen for 10-min tea break. Canteen jam-packed with art students.
10:40 - back to class. Art students still nattering away in their tea break.
12:15 - zip down to the canteen for 45-min lunch break. Canteen jam-packed with art students.
1:00pm - back to class. Art students still nattering away in their lunch break.
Afternoon tea break - same as the morning.
5:15pm - slide down the banisters (part of mechanics homework). Dash out the exit to parked motorbike with a mountain of incomprehensible homework. College all deserted.
The art students clearly had about five hours of lessons a day, compared to our solid eight hours of lectures on the wonders of imaginary and irrational numbers and the laws of Kirchhoff, Fourier and Laplace. And we were learning the laws of riding motorbikes on the road as well. Some serious thought was needed about a more rational future.
But I never liked art much at school and was glad to reach the year when it didn't feature in the timetable any more. So I avoided it ever since.
Until last year - and a diagnosis.
The cancer unit at Guildford hospital has a wonderful support facility called The Fountain Centre, offering all sorts of therapies and classes and other help for patients. So I thought I'd have a dabble with the Art Therapy class.
Maybe it would be fewer hours per day than keeping motorbikes on the road.
What a revelation!
The class is so brilliantly arranged and taught, I now find myself being hung in an art exhibition. Who'd have thought it!?
The exhibition was all the work of our dedicated teacher, Fi Channon, who persuaded a friend to frame our pictures for free, (page 2-3, headed "Art therapy") and also persuaded the actor James Cosmo (Trainspotting, Narnia, Game of Thrones and more) to open it.
Which he did, yesterday. Making it a most wonderful and uplifting day.
It's a small class, only three of us (two patients and a carer), and this is the exhibition of our work. Displayed around the walls of the chemotherapy department of St Lukes cancer centre. We hope it'll persuade more patients to join the class.
My daughter Caroline, on a visit from her new home in Rwanda, studies the pieces.
Teacher Fi shows actor James Cosmo around our exhibition.
One of McCrankpin's weirder works ('the ghost') is amongst those receiving critical appraisal.
And another ('the two feathers')
Across the corridor in the Fountain Centre's art room, Caroline tries out some painting techniques. James Cosmo gets ambushed for an autograph or three by one of Fi's students, Carolyn. Margaret, right, looks on.
The BIG Finale -
The OSCARS meet The TURNER PRIZE in Fi's Art Therapy Class of 2012.
To illustrate the idea behind these classes a little more, this next piece of mine didn't qualify for the exhibition.
Fi teaches a technique to help clear your mind of any and all thoughts of what you're going to paint, and how and even why? With an empty and vacant mind, you put paint to paper and see where it goes entirely of its own volition.
Which didn't quite happen with this -
"You definitely put thought into that picture," said Fi.
I think it started off OK, all abstract with no idea of a destination. But it was during the big build-up to the London Olympics.
So couldn't help it really....
Nor this. The Zundapp Bella scooter and GPO van that I passed my driving tests on, parked outside the Olympic Stadium.
You couldn't make it up.....
(There - I brought two wheels into it eventually)
Posted by Ken Thomas at October 12, 2012 02:25 PM GMT
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