Hello. I studied art because, after a period of ‘trying other things’ I realised I didn’t want to – and couldn’t do – anything else. It’s not that I’m unemployable – I have a very boring office job that I can’t stand. But I realised somewhere between the age of 16, around the time of my A Levels, and 20 that I didn’t want to stop painting. Or more specifically, making. After my A Levels (my highest grade was an A in Art), I went to study Politics at Sheffield University. I really enjoyed the reading, and writing, but it wasn’t enough. I actually I felt a bit stranded and I didn’t know why. I left after 8 months and after a few more months working for Tesco, decided to do an Art Foundation course. It is to this day the best year in education I have had. The tutors, all of whom I’m still in touch with, were amazing. They worked us liked horses, but not only drew out skills and interests I didn’t know I had and introduced me to different types of art I didn’t know existed, but also built on the skills and abilities I knew I had and gave me an unbelievable boost in confidence in my abilities. I went on to study Fine Art at university in London and now I’m a practising artist and now I can’t imagine having anything done else.
I want to work with Arts Emergency because I’m aware – especially since the Tories got in – that it is both much more difficult for young people to go to university in the first place, with the hurdles of the hike in tuition fees and the knock-on effects of the recent ‘re-grading’ of GCSE results, and there is less support for student who might want to explore their interest in art, english, history, sociology. I want to support these people and the Mentoring Scheme that Arts Emergency is setting in motion seems like a brilliant way of doing that, and creating a support system for students.
I’ve been working at a comprehensive school in Islington, running Photoshop Club. I was chatting to one of the Year 6 students, who was in the midst of taking her GCSEs. She’s an A grade art student (and I suspect all the humanities). She said she wanted to do art A-Level, but that it wouldn’t lead to a job, so she was going to take all Sciences instead. It depresses me that students as young as 14 (and younger) are being put off exploring using their creativity and imagination in case it doesn’t directly lead them to employment.