From Sep. 26 on, we have a week of Fresher's Festival. Basically, six colleges of University of the Arts London offer various workshops and courses for new students to choose from. However, last night there was a welcome party. Born with a middle-age mindset, I never care for a dark and noisy occasion like that, but young Jazel kept grumbling about having no friends. To expand her social circles, I had no option but to escort her to the party.
Jazel found me really out of the loop when she saw my sportswear. When we arrived at LCC, we did encounter nicely-dressed Asian and European girls. But there were so few boys, half of whom probably love boys. Before buying any drink, we stood in front of the bar counter, kind of at sea. Even though some really cute girls and a boy tried to strike up conversations with us, we ended up in silence after three or four questions. We then decided to resort to alcohol. Right after we each bought a bottle of beer, two Chinese students came our way. One of them appeared rather desperate. Though we both understand and speak mandarin, he was rather committed to speaking English all along. With the background music blasting, we had a hard time communicating, so in the end, we came up with the excuse of going to the toilet room for a break. When we made our comeback, my cheeks were red and I was floating in the air. I didn't even oppose as Jazel suggested dancing. We shook and swung on the empty dance floor, and I DIDN'T MIND! I could hardly believe that was me. With time passing, more and more people crowded into the room, but most of them stuck to their own friends. We two ended up differentiating gays and learned their elegant postures. On our way home, we came to the conclusion--not to waste the year(s), we have to expand our circles beyond art schools. One of our plans is to explore bars and clubs downtown such as on Oxford Street. Before that, we have to work on our carriage and practice our pickup lines and conversation topics.
In fact, I was secretly happy about coming back to Brooke Hall early because I had my heart set on a green printing workshop on Monday, and it was open only to 10 students on a first-come first-serve basis. Kids, play as late possible. I'd be there very early for the openings, which is so much more important than meeting any cutie!
As I applied for MA in illustration, my interviewer said the techniques involved in my works are too simple. She immediately logged onto the university's website and showed to me the students' works. She said, "In this image, you can see screen printing. Isn't it beautiful?" With this in mind, while others consider this week to be another week of holidays, I am more than ready to earn back the value of the exorbitant tuition fee.
I arrived 50 minutes early, but two students were ahead of me. The lecturer of the workshop is a blonde, casually-dressed teacher. She said to those who had signed, "Go get a cup of coffee, take a look around. Get lost!" On hearing the last sentence, I began to get a general clue of what this lady is like.
When the class was about to begin, more than 10 students popped out. Barbara was too kind to turn down those who hadn't registered. It took us a few more minutes to start. She first gave a short self-introduction. She is Italian. At first she came to London for a three-month-long English course, but she stayed and studied in London College of Communication. She went further up, and now she has lived in London for 12 years. Next it was everybody's turn to introduce themselves. Most of the students today were young people majoring in advertising, media, textile design and illustration. There was a British Chinese who really impresses me. He said, "I am probably the oldest student here. I am 40." He used to work in the public sector, but he took leave after his mother fell ill. When his mom passed away, he couldn't find a job with recession kicking in. He applied for BA in painting in Camberwell, but he was turned down, so he ends up studying book art in LCC. At this moment Barbara went on to say, "Being turned down is not necessarily a bad thing. It means God has a better choice for you." She took herself for example again. She studied architecture in Italy for six years without finishing it, which she thought of as regret, but later she switched her major to design and graphic art. Within 20 minutes, I had the feeling that this was more than a printing workshop. I had the honor to hear so many life stories.
After telling us about all sorts of printing methods, Barbara decided for us the technique of dry point. She gave us a topic--draw a building or a scene in an imaginary city. The ultimate goal was to print everyone's city on a large poster at the end of the day.
Even these printing machines have a long history. They were made in the 1860s. So in the afternoon when we were printing, Barbara said, "Each print comes out different, but if the souls in this room like you, they'll bless you."
In my imaginary city, a huge tree takes us to a lovely land, but I didn't cut deep enough. Nor did I control the ink well. It was far from a good work, but Barbara said, "A bad work will lead to a good one at some point in the future." Once when she was about to tear up a piece of work, she realized that the tear created an excellent effect.
Surrounded by such a positive atmosphere, we complimented on others' good works naturally. I was even ok with my own mediocre creation, but I do feel like working harder.
Barbara advocates green printing and use of recycled materials, so she uses paints such as coffee or spinach. Since her major was book art, she shared with us her handmade books at the end of the workshop. She emphasized that we have to go to libraries or seek online visual images when doing research. Also, we have to turn to our sketchbooks all the time and experiment with all kinds of ideas.
Barbara told us that once she picked two tickets to Paris on the road, she couldn't help imagining the two people that went on the trip and what happened on the way. She thus made a home for the tickets. It is sort like a small folded storybook that can be opened into a long strip of paper.
In fact, Barbara is the technician in the printing room, but what I see is a very passionate life totally devoted to creating. She's full of love for the world, eager to share and treasure all resources. My first teacher in London is an artist that is simple but full of life force.
After Barbara's class, I visited the fantastic library. Then I found this wall, on which postcards made by applicants for foundation studies are posted to show their desire to get into the programs. The big words on the left fully express my thought: I wish you were here. I am. Today I no longer thought about how much talent I have. Even if I am drowned in this huge force which envelopes me, I feel very very blissful.
If now I have to envision the point when I have to leave, I think I have already felt heavy nostalgia...