I’m now nearly six months into my ‘top up’ time of my Fine Art degree at Wolverhampton. I’ve started to feel like I properly belong there. I know who to ask to stretch a canvas. I know where the print room is and how to go about printing something on posh paper. I have found the art shop, a few times. And I know that the coffee that they sell in the art building tastes disgusting (for a real coffee, it is worth walking all the way to Starbucks on campus, which I do twice a week).
I get a real buzz going up the lift of the art building on a Tuesday and Wednesday morning, all the way up to the seventh floor. I love being on the top floor, having the most amazing view of Wolverhampton and surrounding area from my little corner of the studio. The seventh-floor studios are light and airy. They are full of paint-splattered chairs, broken easels, random bits of tat, old cloth, dried-up paint tubes and unwashed coffee cups. All the necessary ingredients for a good, working art studio. They are also full of evidence of people’s creativity: paintings, sculptures, photographs, models, experiments, materials, successes and failures, words and images. There is nothing not to like about the place.
This is a list of what I like about being an art student:
- Being messy is positively encouraged.
- Even though the lecturers would cringe if they were to read this, art is therapy. I feel better about the rest of the world after a day at Wolverhampton.
- Coffee drinking doesn’t feel like a treat, it’s essential.
- There is no dress code.
- Everyone talks visually so I am surrounded by like-minded individuals and there are no misunderstandings.
- The age mix of my fellow students is broad. I don’t feel like a sad, mature student past their best.
- I can do almost anything I want, within reason, including bronze casting, which is something I can’t do at home.
- I can sit and think for hours and call it work.
- I get to write about art and get marked for it. I like writing and I like art so a win-win situation.
- People watching doesn’t feel rude, it is as essential as coffee drinking.
If I were Prime Minister, I’d encourage more people to be art students. It would be a bit like national service: one year’s forced creativity. It is a good life. I don’t want it to end. Luckily, it won’t for at least another year.