Don't Bring Your Pencils Don't Bring Your Pencils; (What the Trendy Art Teacher Told His Drawing Students )

By Childish, Billy | The Mail on Sunday (London, England), August 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

Don't Bring Your Pencils Don't Bring Your Pencils; (What the Trendy Art Teacher Told His Drawing Students )


Childish, Billy, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)


Byline: BILLY CHILDISH

My first job at the age of 16 was in a dockyard. As I had left school without an education, my means of escape was to teach myself to draw and win a place at the local art college.

Like many students before me, I was naively passionate about painting and drawing so I was unprepared for what I met there. Within two months I was an alcoholic, hating all art and vowing never to paint another picture in my life.

Why? Well, most of the tutors were too drunk, too pleased with clever ideas or too busy trying to sleep with female students to pass on what little skills they could still remember. If, by chance, I did come across a student or tutor who wanted to be a real artist or a free thinker, I found they were generally regarded as stodgy and uncool - people to be removed.

From my recent experience of lecturing in art schools, I can only judge that the problem has got worse. Students approaching tutors wishing to be instructed in drawing skills have been told that they will jeopardise their degrees if they pursue painting and drawing.

An acquaintance was told by a tutor that paintings do not count as work because they do not show the development of ideas. Another student was given a dressing down by his tutor for using the colour pink in a painting. This same tutor was later seen in a straw-strewn studio, banging his heel against the wall and telling his students to join him in 'free expression'.

Students who ask to be instructed in classical skills are seen as mavericks.

One art school bought computers rather than charcoal because it was deemed 'too messy'.

And then there was the tutor at Camberwell College of Arts in South London who told a student applying for a drawing class not to bring her pencils because 'gardening is the new drawing' - perhaps that tutor should be re-employed tending the flowerbeds at Camberwell Green.

Art schools now prefer to bully students into making bad video films and producing all manner of useless novelty art. Earlier this year Ivan Massow, chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Art, accurately condemned it as conceptual rubbish. For this truthful observation he was dismissed.

It is time students demanded to be taught art skills or go on art strike.

Art schools that do not have a painting department - where people actually paint pictures - should be stripped of their titles.

A leading exponent of the conceptual-One of the country's leading art schools, Camberwell College of Arts, has been accused by its own students of failing to teach them how to draw and paint. …

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