Like many groups at PSAD who have worked together over the years our Wednesday morning life class has developed a spirit in the mass. We are now a closely knit group of artistically motivated students, committed to our class and to PSAD. The March 2020 lockdown threw up a challenge: how to keep our class connected (this was in the dark ages before universal Zooming); and how to stay focused without a studio subject.
The ‘selfie’ – the nearest thing to hand – provided our first collective challenge; or was it the ‘egg box’ nearby? Etta (struggling with a pencil deficit in deepest Wiltshire) threw down the gauntlet. We posted our efforts on WhatsApp, our medium of choice. An aubergine challenge followed.
Annabel – our inspirational tutor not yet on furlough – raised the stakes: interpret this work by Matisse or that one by Paula Rego. Not just copy. Not just represent. But ‘re-interpret’. A challenge of a higher order.
The non-existent summer term arrived. Annabel was off-limits. Liz proposed four evocative haikus for more ‘interpretation’. We had a go at Morandi-style cross-hatching, with modernised subject matter.
Di proposed a ‘nesting’ theme.
Of course, class members were doing other work besides. Sarah confected cupcakes in oils. Neil embarked on a self-portrait odyssey for charity. Julian reprised Venice, and Jill conjured gestural abstracts and the sole of BLM. Margot celebrated a birthday bouquet. Clare milked the possibilities of cows in Wales, and – for the kids – a cutout parrot appeared in Migs’ back garden, chased by a monkey. Liz, all the while, choreographed a dance of harlequins. Hilary, good on her, sewed scrubs for the NHS. WhatsApp was red hot.
By now we also Zoomed to keep in touch, and as Lockdown eased over the summer we regularly parked by the river. Sitting in a socially distanced circle we sketched the company (Karen excelled), or an inquisitive dog. No one else turned up once and Margot resorted to trees.
Throughout these challenging times we kept alive the spirit of the class, and the creative ethos of PSAD. It was so good to be rotated back into the studio last autumn, and to explore the unexpected perspectives of Zoomed models this spring, enhanced by remote, but insightful, feedback from Annabel. We can’t wait to be back in the studio this summer.
Martin Smith. Class Rep. April 2021.
Participating group members: Ann Burden, Hilary Burton, Clare Ceprynksi, Sarah Clifford, Margot Cox, Karen Crossley, Louise Devonshire, Jill Drower and Migs Goo.