Learning to be an artist
I moved to Lockerbie aged eleven and went to the Academy. For the first time in my life I studied art and science properly. Despite the very formal nature of lessons, lettering for weeks, drawing faces (front, profile, three-quarters), and only then using paint – I loved it.
At Dumfries Academy we had whole-year slideshow lectures on art history and, unlike most, I enjoyed that too. However, I had to move on to Reigate Grammar School and O-levels. No art. In the sixth form I was forced to make a choice: sciences or arts. A-levels in sciences and art were not an option. From then until retirement my art activity was un-tutored and spasmodic.
I then studied AS-level Art with Jai Chaudhuri at Wensum Lodge in Norwich and he changed my life. A new kind of excitement led me to see the world and to experiment in ways that were refreshing and challenging. Ten years later, I still feel this way.
On Jai’s advice (nay, instruction!), I went on to the City College Norwich and completed the Access to Art and Design with him, Brenda Unwin and Chris Hann. It was Chris who did 3D work with us and who said to me ‘Face it, John, you are a sculptor’.
And now I am. I still participate in courses from time to time, having taken Brenda’s advice to follow my own practice and learn new skills whenever I feel the need. This I have done, mainly through the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, working in steel, bronze casting and wood carving. I also had an excellent week experiencing steel-working with City Lit in London and also stone carving with Rosemary Elliot.
Above: My first piece in glvanised steel, with the help of Air Cair Norwich. I discovered the appeal of curving surfaces close to each other
Below: Dancing Hare. At City Lit we were given a 15 cm square of 1 mm mild steel to learn ways of cutting, shaping and joining it. The Dancing Hare was not exactly planned. it just evolved.
Above: Ailsa's Curves.
Plaster and aluminium
Below: Still-life sketch in three dimensions.
Apple shoots and honestry seeds