Art with a capital ‘A’

A curse on anyone describing themself as ‘creative’. Piffle and poo to them all. The life drawing classes were shaping up nicely, and I was feeling decidedly smug, in that way of someone contemplating their second group exhibition in a year.

And then the art teacher took over.

I reckon I’ve been plagued by this type for as long as I can remember. The first I recall was Mrs Tombs in junior school, who helped us make macramé spice holders, padded photo frames and Xmas decorations made of yoghurt containers painted silver, with bon mots such as ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’. Then there was the elderly Miss Parkin, who encouraged us to card, spin and dye our own wool to create puke-coloured ‘wall hangings’ – a project that took about 6 months. Mrs Hurlstone who wore Joy Division t-shirts and who taught us coil and slab pots: 18 months. Mrs Grove, she of the W-front pocketless jeans, who bad-temperedly taught us how to draw each others’ shoes: 6 trillion years. Well I had her for about 3 years, and might I say if I had to draw black lace-up Clarks with scummy grey bookroom socks today I could probably do it with my eyes shut.

Mrs Van Tatenhove for graphics who used to call me ‘grubby’. In the days before computers, all we had was a ruler, some 6H pencils and a packet of dry textas. I expressed my discontent by spending much of year 10 under the artroom table. The list goes on, and in later years I was plagued by animators obsessed with linework, inbetweening and footage.

According to these drones, art is about creating something the same as everyone else in the class, coloured in neatly to the edge, that looks like a photograph, easy to grasp the meaning of or appreciate, or something that’s ‘neat’.


Gah, pah. I know now to regard with deep suspicion anyone who says “I’m a bit of a (insert outlandish claim here) person”, and usually apply the opposite. Eg:

“I’m a bit crazy, a bit mad!” (wears bright orange lipstick, has 7 glitter pens of all shades on desk and uses them, attends self-awareness conferences run by Anthony Robbins and his ilk)
“I’m an adrenaline junkie!” (attends indoor rock climbing, went sky-diving once, installed spoiler on car)
“I’m very environmentally-sensitive!” (spends 20 minutes in the shower, lets the tap drip continually, prates about the evils of mass-produced items yet thinks nothing about buying clothes, CDs etc don’t get me started on hippies)

But the WORST has to be Mr/Mrs “I’m very creative in my spare time,” because you can guarantee they make coil pots from Das, haunt Riot Arts and Crafts for sales on cheap stencils, and sport no less than 10 frilly pillows on their bed. THIS HAS A LOT TO DO WITH BUSY FINGERS AND NOTHING TO DO WITH CREATIVITY. Grrrrrrr.

I’m drifting off the point here a bit. What I was trying to say is that I was very enthused about the upcoming exhibition, but was railroaded into attending a class (at the crack of dawn on Sunday) to all create exactly the same canvas as everyone else. Big white canvas (from aforementioned crap crafts store), 90x40mm. Three shades of pastel (badly-chosen, by Sabine) rubbed together to look ‘neat’. Acrylic paint on the background, with a darker foreground fading to a lighter background (using a very crafty watercolour-ish technique). With my scratchy, scribbly style this looked like CRAP under my ham fists. I am no painter.

What is the POINT then, of an exhibition if not to choose the best work and hang it on a wall? We all draw in different ways, with our own ways of seeing it, which is in my opinion, what makes art!! It’s really quite simple. I didn’t attend a life drawing class to learn how to draw mix acrylics! I spent years with camel-toe Grove doing colour wheels, to discover that there was no way I would ever do another one. Ever.

All is not lost though. Plans are afoot to run my own damn show, for fun and profit. Sorry about the rant, this incident has opened a seam of resentment nursed against all art teachers since I don’t know when. Just don’t call me creative!


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