I have been rude
To a young poet. Not about her work, but about her reported experience of University where she conducted study of all things cultural. She said: most of it went over my head. I said: education is wasted on youth.
Oh dear. But it is, to some extent true. Actually, I think it has a lot to do with how concepts and texts are presented and is hopefully less of a indictment on young people, who are actually completely fascinating and good to have around (sometimes).
I am thinking back to my “art education”. This is what I remember. High School art teacher who seemed quite nice, but thinking back must have been one inept teacher, if not artist. We started with the primary colour wheel and worked up to a secondary colour wheel round the first. Then somehow, it seemed to be time for a self-portrait. There may have been some intermediate stages, but I don’t remember them.
For a self-portrait we needed a mirror. Well I didn’t have a mirror. I was not a girly 11 or 12 year old with such accoutrements. I could hardly have removed the bathroom mirror from home without being skinned alive, so what was I meant to do. I had no money to buy a mirror. I didn’t bring in a mirror. Maybe I painted or drew something from memory. It wouldn’t have been very “good” as a piece. But, more importantly, the process of the production was painful and not a little humiliating “Wot no mirror you bad girl?”. The whole uncomfortable memory was topped off by the bitch teacher having nothing to say about me at the parents’ evening other than I had wilfully and with pure evil intent never brought in a mirror to facilitate my masterpiece.
Ok, she may not have exactly said that, but the message was clear. My response was of equal force: I hate “art” and I won’t be going near it again. And I didn’t.
When I moved to London I found I had quite a lot of time on my hands on weekends, so I would take myself to the theatre and to art galleries and musuems. And I discovered stories, the story of the piece or the person and that, to me, is what makes sense of what you see and respond to. It seems practically criminal now to show kids great paintings without putting them in their own contexts. Not exactly meaningless, but a real missed opportunity.
It is for this reason I have been enjoying the Modern Masters programmes on the BBC. The presenter needs a bit of a whack at times, but the positive side of his enthusiasm is that it engages kids. The eldest spent a little while yesterday watching with me; enjoying photos of Matisse in his taxi-bed cutting and sticking with giant shears. She was drawn in and she responded to what she saw. To be the kind of parent that as a bare minimum does not crush creativity like that fucking art teacher is my aspiration.
I am also thinking of doing some oil painting. I have warned the art tutor at college that I will a) be late most likely b) attempt to eat the paints c) be looking to emulate Van Gogh. Poor man. At least he won’t be able to grass me up to my mum.