Recently I have just started teaching a young lady from a local high school. A very capable and talented girl, she is very certain about her journey with her art and how she approaches it. We talked a little about our experiences at high school and it made me feel a bit sad that she is going through a very similar time that I had where you were instructed to do something, given a specific task to complete and within certain boundaries. Now I totally understand that in the wider understanding of mainstream education that school kids are taught the fundamental need to be able to take instruction and follow it through to completion. To a degree this forms the basis of my own classes, I create a scenario and develop a task for the students to follow. But that is where is stops. I don’t want them to copy it exactly, I want them to take the task and make it their own. If I wanted a class full of sheep that follow crowds I would go and sit in the local farmers field with some real ones. This, in my own personal opinion is what creatives are all about. We don’t fit a mould, or boxes. We cannot be shaped into a specific type of person. We are born with something that cannot be manufactured and its takes very special people to help shape the development that we need. I have a desire for my classes to really get to grips with themselves.

I didn’t come out of my GCSE art very well, in fact I don’t remember much about it other than some was under exam conditions and I made the best out of what I meant to do. My final piece was inspired by the Bon Jovi single ‘Blaze of Glory’ and I created a CD cover, a dark cowboy riding a black horse heading into a flame with a dark mysterious Harley Davidson & rider heading into the same bright flame creating the illusion they would somehow meet in the middle. I spent ages researching bikes and horses – there was no such thing as Google then – but the concept was so obviously lost on the examiners who didn’t feel the inspiration I did and why. Something changed. It dawned on me that this is what my purpose was, creating my art from what I loved and was inspired by.

Now at 16 years old, I was heading for college. That picture above? I would walk that route every morning on my way to London Road Studio’s laden with my art box (which I still have and use) with my big heavy leather (yep still have it!) with Guns n Roses, Bon Jovi, all the music I loved all on a mix tape in my Sony Walkman, creating a fantasy in my head that I could be good enough to work with these hero’s of mine, and dreaming up pieces of work that maybe I could get featured on an album cover or on some kind of merchandise. I held a belief and hunger that I was one day going to achieve that and each day for 2 years I listened to the same mix tapes over and over again whilst I walked that journey. 2 Wonderful years passed of pure creativity and zero boundaries with tutors who allowed students to express themselves however they needed to. The following 2 years changed it all. I decided to major in fashion. Mathmatical, rigid and specific. I hated it. I knew I had made a mistake and simply made the best of what I loved and winged the rest. But my artistic journey came to an end in 1999. I had been accepted into Salford University on a fashion degree but my instinct told me to stop. Stop because I knew the system would try and mould me into something I didn’t want to be – everything was about computers and I just wanted to create art in MY way. I went and got a full time job, never picking up my paintbrush again until 2012.  Something emotional triggered my need to pick that brush up again……

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