Sunday 24 February 2008

Scary Hair and Specs from the Sixties...etc.

By around the age of nine I realised that drawing was something I might be good at. And when the time came, I looked forward to classes in the special Art Room when I started at Balshaw's Grammar School ....
Imagine my disappointment when we were expected to spend the long years leading up to the GCE exams meticulously drawing Roman Lettering, designing wall papers (must get the 'drop' to match!) and, worse still, mastering the tedious intricacies of interlacing strapwork. Under-over-under-over-un...."whoops, I fell asleep!" Fortunately our art mistress, the magnificently but frighteningly moustached Miss Whewell retired after a couple of years.
We had a period of being taught by the obviously non-artistic - 'well, it's only Art, so we needn't rush getting someone trained in'. Eventually- happy days- Mr. May came into our lives. He was a rookie, he was naive, he was small and chubby-cheeked and we took the proverbial- but what an excellent teacher he was!
Life in the Art Room took on a new perspective- interesting, experimental, exciting yet instructional, and he even turned a blind eye to our pinching paper from the stockroom!
We drew and sculpted anything and everything- for once someone thought that Art was as important a subject as Science and the Classics, and our abilities were taken seriously .
What an important difference this made- it's a fact that we do better in those subjects where we're fond of the teacher.
Ralph May! What a sweetie! Where is he now??

Pictured here: Photo- Ann Davies, Mr. May, Susan Bennett, Caroline Johnson, Mary Hall, Susan Baxendale. Note boyfriends' initials on workshirts....
Veggie homework, May 1962
View of the artroom, 1964


Sue England said...

My God!!
Will rush up to the attic this evening to see if I've any early sketch books, but I suspect not-I'm obviously not such a hoarder as you! Poor Mr May-we did run rings round him didn't we-would love to know if he's still around, and the others in the photo too. Are they still drawing and painting I wonder?
Great drawings by the way-mine were nothing like that I'm sure!

Caroline said...

Ann Davies, the last I heard, had 'taken up the brush' again...
And remember I was the one that failed A-Level when you 'diss' yourself!

Pat said...

Being 5 1/2 years younger than you we never had the joy of Mr. May.

We had a man who spent all his time writing house signs on slices of wood and made us do 'lettering' as I suspect it was the only thing he knew much about. I actually enjoyed the 'half drop' etc fabric designing but I never did learn to paint.