Coming home from Bologna in March, there was a lot to digest. I’d met both students and staff from Anglia Ruskin in Bologna, and I thought a great deal about the MA course. I had heard a lot about it and enjoyed the wonderful books that have emerged from students over the years. This is especially true as I attend (and have entered in the past) the Macmillan prize every year and you will always see students’ work from Cambridge at the final exhibition, so the course has intrigued me for some time, but has been beyond my means. Until now…
My tutor at Anglia Ruskin Pam Smy, introducing the day of talks.
I attended a summer conference at Cambridge called “A Bit too Arty”. A day of fantastic talks discussing how illustrators maintain a fresh, individual, creative voice whilst working in an international publishing environment and the challenges facing new talent in the industry. Speakers included Helen Mackenzie Smith (of Bell Lomax agency), Deidre McDermott (Picture book publisher from Walker Books), Andrea MacDonald (Commissioning Editor at Random House Children’s Publishers), Ness Wood (Freelance Designer), and illustrators Nicola Killen, Marta Altes, Courtney Dicmas and Marion Lindsay.
The day was jam packed and insightful with great advice from industry professionals. I was blown away and knew I had to attend the course. After some serious financial thought, in the summer I made my application.
Just being asked to attend an interview was seriously exciting; being accepted was beyond my wildest dreams. And so in September (after a preparatory week off in Fuerteventura…) I put all work I was not already committed to on hold in order to pursue my course fully.
A very proud moment, my college id card.
My course has been a steep learning curve. I had no idea what to expect and was nervous due to my hearing problems and lots of people as I struggle to hear in large groups. Our first semester has been focused on observational drawing and experimenting with new materials. It’s been a steep learning curve going back to the discipline of daily observational drawing, and during the winter months something of a test of endurance especially when outside!
I’m so enjoying the process, going back to my core skills and reassessing the way I work. Particularly, I’m trying to force myself out of bad habits, loosening up, experimenting with mark making, drawing things that I might find difficult but also really thinking about key areas like tone, perspective and colour.
We have also had the opportunity to attend fantastic lectures – here are a few of our guest lecturers:
John Vernon Lord
Alexis Deacon (our tutor)
Charles Shearer (also tutor)
Meeting an absolute heroine of mine: Sara Fanelli who very kindly signed ALL my books!
A sneaky Peek at Axel’s amazing sketchbooks!
Charles Shearer teaching us in class and sharing his own work.
I have also started a children’s book writing course at City Lit run by Elizabeth Hawkins.
So, the life of a student beckons. At the end of 2014, I took my new wares to sell at a Christmas Fair in Aldershot with a friend who makes beautiful jewellery (Renata Graham) knowing that it will be my last fair for a while…
My stand at the Aldershot Christmas Fair
On a personal note, the Anglia Ruskin disability team have been incredibly supportive and I am very fortunate to have received funding to purchase new equipment, which will work in conjunction with my hearing aids so I can hear in rooms with lots of people talking. The studio at Anglia Ruskin is very echoey and this is a real challenge for me, so I am very excited at the prospect of being able to participate fully with my fellow students hopefully allowing me to focus fully on the job of learning. My new equipment will arrive in the next week, so I can start the second semester and New Year afresh, hopefully with bionic ears.