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Interesting anecdotes


I placed a small unframed painting 2 ft x 4 ft against the magnolia wall. It consisted of a flat magnolia surface. Everyone studiously ignored it except for my estate’s caretaker. He said that anyone who thought it was art only had half a brain.

The best exhibition

John The Builder delightedly told us that one Art student at Reading(?) spent three years carefully studying cogwheels and motorbike parts. He had previously worked in a motorbike factory and was obviously doing well exploring this variety of mechanical shapes. His research was meticulous and besides trips to motorbike factories he spent three years creating works from cogs which he made in the college workshop using only authentic materials. For his degree exhibition he assembled all the parts into a well known motorbike and drove off never to be seen again.

My Ambition

I want to sell the Tate Gallery in London their own floor. It is beautiful and far more deserving of a visit than some of the work on display, but, as they have not had to pay for it they have not noticed it and do not think it is Art.

Life Class

I used to attend a life drawing workshop every Wednesday night and we had some very interesting models but the most interesting to me was one we nick-named "Jack the Dripper" because at break time, he would meander around to look at peoples' drawings but he never seemed to notice that he had a dribbling problem...

Art College stories

New concepts in Rebellion

A wonderful long lost friend was threatened with expulsion from her Fashion and Textiles course. She had been asked to produce a piece of work around the concepts Rebellion and ‘Punk’. Besides appending the usual safety pins and sprayed on slogans she had included the word ‘fuck’. Apparently this was overstepping the mark of 'acceptable' rebellion.

New ideas

A friend drew a book of some public seating in the local shopping centre. (Rather like a series of frames from a film). Most of the frames were of people or birds wandering in and out or sitting down. On a few frames he drew a cherub flying in and out. When asked why he explained that he thought it made the work more beautiful. The tutor responded: 'In today’s art situation Beauty is no longer a valid criterion'.

Colour field:

When asked why I never did any large work I explained that I did and pointed to a large empty plain coloured wall. This I explained was a colour field. My interrogator got a bit cross and pointed out that I had not put the paint on the wall. I argued that indeed I had not but that this did not invalidate the work. Someone passing heard this. A few days later a huge canvas very badly painted but coloured the same as the wall appeared there. About two weeks later the original interrogator, still trying to give me useful advice, stopped me in the same location and, forgetting the previous conversation, seriously suggested I do large work like, for example, the large colour field on the wall there.

Profound tutorial.

I was producing small monoprints on etching plates. (Like frames in a film). Most of the tutors could not understand what I was doing. As they had probably seen something like the image before, they assumed I never did any work. This was compounded by my refusal to sign in although I was on site working for about 8 hours/day. (My friend studiously walked in 2 miles each day signed on and walked home, refusing to do any work. They never noticed!) I was told that I had to do start doing some work and one tutor demanded 6 drawings over the weekend.
At the time I was into drawing things that were not there. Assuming these drawings would not go down well, in addition to the usual work, I did some uninteresting scribbles. Come Monday I threw them in a large bin. Tutor comes in and asks where my drawings are. I explain that they are not worth looking at and are in the bin and offer some more etchings. Ignoring the etchings Tutor asks me to get drawings. I explain that they are in the bin. By now they are all covered by dirty etching ink and piles of other rubbish. Tutor empties out the bin. Rummaging around he finds some images (some of them mine) covered in all sorts of nasty stuff . He studiously lays out the contents of the bin all over his desk and earnestly said “But this is all rubbish”. I agree and leave. End of tutorial, but had he inadvertently discovered a new art form?

Very Sick friend

Friend and I looking down the stairwell of the art college marked the spot someone would land if s/he threw him/her self off the stairs. While we were discussing this a disturbed person ran up to us and demanded that we stop as 'It was not funny and someone might do it for real one day'.
Months later I was staying with this friend. He walked in to his flat after his daily journey to college to sign the register explaining that he had just had a terrible day in college. Puzzled, as he never actually attended, I asked why. He explained that some thoughtless person had thrown himself off the stairs nearly hitting him while landing. What was really upsetting , he explained, was that we had been about three feet out.

Artistic dress

Other friend and I decided that Tuesday was to be a suit day and consequently wore suits every Tuesday. This breach of the filthy jeans dress code so enraged some fellow students that, open-minded as ever, they physically attacked us! Fortunately they did not want to beat us up just to physically eject us improperly dressed as we were from this centre of Art and Creativity.


People passing an art college can usually recognise the fine art students because their clothes are covered in paint. I discovered why when I stumbled into one of the painting studios and found a number of persons studiously gaining street cred by applying paint to the jeans they were standing up in.

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*Fat People Are Beautiful*

Isnt Life Wonderful!
John Carling

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