I don’t remember doing any imaginative art work when I was at my primary school it was all made at home. I do remember enjoying ‘nature study’ when you were given something like a snowdrop to draw so that you could name the parts.
Somehow my imagination had to come through and it came in the form of writing…give me a story to write and I would be away, off in my own world. It was my writing that won me a scholarship in 1944 (it certainly wasn’t my Maths which was appalling and still is today). It was a great opportunity for me but it meant I lost all my friends as I had to travel to the nearest grammar school, which was in Wallingford. In the first year I felt very isolated and alone and my only solace was in drawing. In English we were given books to read and I illustrated them…I can remember getting carried away by Treasure Island. I wish I had some of those drawings now. We did have art lessons but all the teachers had gone off to war so they roped in a very disparate crew to more or less sit in with us whilst we drew cubes, cylinders and very simple perspective.
I did have another outlet, my father was a member of the Oxford Archaeological Society and he frequently took me to the Ashmolean Museum. In the early days I drew the Egyptian mummies and Alfred’s jewel. Later I had read somewhere that ‘proper’ artists drew the Greek and Roman classical statues…right I could do that too.
My progression led me through School Certificate and Higher School Certificate Art (plus other subjects of course) There were two papers…Still Life and Imaginative Composition. It hadn’t changed much when I was teaching years later! I never touched colour the whole time I was at school (how amazing is that!)…it was just pencil drawing.