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The Problems With University

Returning to being out of education.

It’s October 2008, and armed with a few fine liner pens and a head full of scattered concepts; I decided to return to formal education. Although full bloodied in my desire to create, I became disillusioned with the processional nature of arts education during my B.A degree in Fine Art, which I completed in 2007. It became apparent that the art produced was only valuable if it ticked appropriate boxes. And so, possessed with a youthful sense of anarchy, I decided to compromise my grade in favour of work that I actually wanted to produce and vowed that education was detrimental to the liberation one can achieve through fine art practice.

 So what better way to feel such liberation than by returning to the very thing that was found to be restricting less than a year later?! I will say that I did not return to full-time education and, initially, I did not return to Fine Art. I began a part time M.A in Animation. A subject I know nothing of past watching the occasional Pixar or Studio Ghibli work and thinking ‘oooh that’s pretty.’ It was begun simply out of curiosity. I was deterred by the prospect of fine art at this point due to past experiences, but I did want to incorporate fine art into the discipline of animation. I just thought it might be interesting – it’s as simple as that. I began a series of hurried sequences attempting to highlight the essence of food and how the process of eating food can evoke powerful spiritual sensations.

A good idea …in theory.

But good god, it was boring. Not aided by lectures, who seemed to rabidly scorn at the idea of an animation without a central character who, to them, would no doubt be an anthropomorphic dog, wearing a red bow tie and making wry observations from time to time whilst munching on a bone. Such was the limited scope of their innovations.   

I remained however: Hunched over in a darkened room, lit only chemically by the odd computer screen and table lamp, and questioning once again my reasons for being involved in education. I was attempting some stop frame animation involving the process of eating food, but I’d much rather have been having my teeth removed slowly by a piss-stained tramp brandishing rusty pliers and a masonry drill. At least then I could have contemplated the juxtaposition of a man performing unnecessary and highly questionable dental surgery despite having no past experience and despite undoubtedly having dental problems of his own.     

 But as I remained, even still, one thing did dawn on me; how much I loved painting. I found that I could not adequately incorporate fine art into animation, and the removal of painting in favour of animation made me miss it, yearn for it. The end of my course saw me ask to return to a fine art education. This was an administrative procedure I fully expected to take months, but all the admin required was to take a biro, cross out the word ‘Animation’ and crudely scribble the words ‘Fine Art’ in it’s place. Almost laughably easy, but I wasn’t complaining, as finally I returned to a discipline I fully expect to stay with me for life. 

The quality of my work improved beyond all recognition. Gone were my vain attempts to shoehorn my food-based delights into an animated sequence an in its place were large canvases, acrylic and attempts to turn food itself into a paint. That’s not to say I achieved a sense of comfort within the university – I felt my work was being conducted in spite of being within an institution, and indeed now I have completed my course I feel as though I am liberated, though crucially this time around, a little more informed with regard to my future. 

And now I am here.

This website showcases and almost celebrates my return to painting, but nothing would have been achieved if it weren’t for initial toils with animation, so I do find myself curiously in debt to the discipline. Two pieces of work art currently on display in an exhibition at Glyndwr University – Regent Street campus: Upon viewing them in such a context, I find myself shrouded with an air of clarity. I certainly have no disillusionment with fine art anymore, and have attained a genuine passion for the notions and associations held within the concept of food.            

The Glyndwr University M.A show is on for one more day – the 27th September

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