Art College ramblings digressions and what not

I just read this interesting article about the Art College in Brighton during the 60’s
Brighton College of Art in the 60’s
And it reminded me alot of my experience at Portsmouth College of Art and then the Fine Art Dept of Portsmouth Polytechnic. I thought it would be nice to write down a few of my memories.

I remember that I was literally the first interviewee in a bunch for my place at Portsmouth College of Art. I was interviewed by Mark Harrington, who was to be one of my first year, foundation lecturers. I still remember him saying ” Well this is good stuff, less of the Roger Dean shit and you´ll be fine… welcome!” And that was it! After a nerve wracking 5 minutes where he just perused my folder of school Art class stuff, I was in!
I relaxed a little at school for the remainder of the year, maybe a little too much?
I arrived, a long haired hippy type, with patched up jumpers and holy (as in with holes) jeans, to be confronted with a bunch of the scariest and most way out looking punks and goths and new romantics. It took a year before my hair became black, and it has stayed dyed ever since… Im 51 now! It was frightening, but totally inspiring! I had NO IDEA (I still dont) what “kind” of Art I should do, and the foundation year was designed for me to find out. A bit of everything, drawing, painting nudes, graphics, printing, plastic, metalwork and photography. I LOVED IT! The only hinderance for me at the time was that I was “commuting” from Petersfield everyday.
By the second year I had moved to Pompey and really took advantage of life as an Art Student. Going to shows, staying till we were thrown out of the video suite or darkrooms (look them up you youngsters).
Im not sure how much talent I ever had (or have actually) but I must say that at Portsmouth I did get the interest to try many things, and that has stayed with me to this day. Not really a good thing really, but maybe. I don’t think Ive ever become really outstanding at anything really, technology always seems to whizz past before I really feel I have done all.. For fuck sake I was experimenting with hand dying film, when video came in, I was faffing with making quicktime VR circular poems, when I should have learned programming… Ja.. Programming thats the one thing I really regret never to have mastered. I mean I cant play guitar, but Ive toured the world in a famous band, I don’t know much about film, but Ive probably directed more actors than anyone in Norway… I don’t understand electronics but I have a pretty huge modular synth that I soldered myself… see a pattern here?
Anyway… I followed a girlfriend into a jewellery course, and loved it… but gave it up after a year, it just wasn’t… arty enough… silly really… I made some lovely rings, by a technique known as fusing, where you don’t really use solder, you just wait till the silver melts, and JUST before it goes BLOB into a runny mess you pull away… twas cool as hell. and to be honest.. I wish I still did that. If I hadn’t twatted about with video feedback, and got hooked on experimental video I would never have had to sit through 6 hour meetings about HSE or HR or…fucking CSR. I wouldn’t know what a company design profile was and I wouldn’t give two hoots about visions and values…
Where was I? Video… yep lots of re-filming off screens, recording buzzing noises, burying TVs in the beach, draping apartments with white sheets and, projecting on houses. Then zippady doo dah, over I pop to the Polytechnic and join the real arty mob in the…
Fine Art department
“Your stuff is too… er slick… Mark”
they wailed…
“It must be all that time doing graphics…!”
while at the same time handing rolls of film to students who came back with black totally underexposed films (“I filmed myself masterbating at four in the morning… I left the lens cap on as a statement about pornography”)
I was stuck between two poles, I was all design-y and pop video-y and yet when I was at the Art College it was all craft, and technique…and there they said I was too weird, didnt stick to the brief…too mess… ahh well…
But it was OK at the Poly, I made a fun film, with lots of holes punched in it, I filmed some melodramatic goths poncing about on a freezing winter West Wittering, and set it all to backwards distorted guitars and techno beats. Ace! Also met James my on and off collaborator for… well… we still dabble now…
Then it was over..
I was out…
The World
not so much as a ” Well there this grant…”
“Heres some place that might show you films if you sent them”
“Have you thought about pop videos”
oh no.
It was… “Dole Office is down there on the left… let us know when you have a retrospective of your earlier work at Aspex Gallery in Southsea, and we´ll come and drink your wine…”
So it was Bread Pudding and coffee in a cafe in Albert Rd for 2 years discussing “scripts” with James… occasionally rehearsing with this new band I got asked to join… a one off trip to Thailand on a documentary film, taught a bit in a video course of my own devising,
and then…
good old John Peel.. may he rest in peace…

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