04. art school

I left naval service when I was about 20 and I approached the art school. I hadn't done much art when I was in the navy but I gathered up all of my art and took it to the local art school and I got into art school but had to wait six months for the beginning of the academic year so I worked for a local dentist and then I went to art school fulltime and I thought it was fantastic. I liked it much better and had a greater sense of freedom than in the WRENS, although I negotiated my own freedom in that system quietly. This however was free, and the philosophy about being an art student was one of freedom. I worked at night, I got myself a part-time job, I was able to be independent because by then I'd worked for four years and I was going on for 21 and I wasn't dependent on my parents.


Did you live with your parents?


Yes I lived with them. It wasn't perfect because I wasn't able to work at home, my mother didn't think much of art students. It was a mucky job, you had to get dirty. And if you're a painting student the fashion is to be grungy, it’s part of the ethos.


I also got a job in the local mental hospital and I worked in the geriatrics ward and I worked from 5 o'clock until 11 o'clock every night. I quite liked that it was interesting. I loved every minute of art school and I liked my fellow students and we'd go out to pubs. At the end of my first year the art education system changed. We were part of technical education. It didn't have a very high social standing academically, artists and musicians. And then they changed it and suddenly we became part of the pol|ytechnics.


The two best colleges were Leicester and Leeds. I applied to Leeds but it was full up so I went to Leicester and did a Diploma in Fine Arts. I lived in digs. That's when you live in somebody else's house. There weren't halls of residency, you had to have your own little flat or you shared a house, but digs was where you lived in a house where somebody gave a room or two to a student. I lived in Leicester in 1963 and then I got myself a little flat in a big house which had been converted into flats. I got it rent free for cleaning it. I cleaned the corridors so I was kind of the caretaker.

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