Running art classes and courses is a bit like publishing a magazine. Whilst my students are preoccupied with this week’s subject, I am thinking, planning and sorting out stuff for 6 months time. Amazingly, it is already time to arrange the summer Saturday classes. So on to the subject of, well, subjects. As usual I ask my class for guidance. Last term two people spoke up simultaneously:
“Ooh, please can we do pastels again”
“Anything except sodding pastels”
Therein lays the problem, one person’s favourite subject/medium is another’s most hated. And then there is the problem of finding photos. Obviously for still life, flowers etc I take stuff in, but for other subjects sometimes photos are needed, and they must be very good photos.
Last week on asking the class the usual question, instead of the usual same old replies someone said “Ballet or Flamenco dancers”. The room hushed in appreciation of this super idea. But of course where do you get the photos? Not on the internet, despite many attempts the images are just not of a high enough definition. And don’t even mention the local library, fat chance of Flamenco dancers there.
And unfortunately the days are gone where artists could just snap or sketch away at anybody they fancied. Can you imagine what would happen nowadays if Degas were to hang around sketching young girls at ballet class? After about 10 minutes mothers with placards would appear shouting “Out paedophile”, and ITN would turn up to film it all. Then the social workers would put all the little ballet dancers on the ‘at risk’ list. ‘No photographs’ says a sign on the swimming pool wall in our town. And as for the ever popular paintings of children playing on the beach, or in the park, it’s a brave artist that takes those photos or sits watching those kids. My boyfriend, a keen reader of photography magazines assures me that photographers who snap public buildings now risk having film and cameras confiscated (terrorists everywhere you know.)
A few months ago I heard an interview on Radio 5. The ‘expert’ was explaining how to spot people in your street who abuse their children. Look for kids that look miserable, and never smile, and listen for parents who seem to shout a lot, she explained. The woman has obviously never had teenagers. I was jumpy for the rest of the day, expecting a knock on the door…
After a particularly tense run in with my daughter a couple of years ago, when I had done something awful, like stopped her from eating her own body weight in chocolate or watching TV for 12 straight hours she yelled at me “I am going to phone ‘Childline’, then I won’t have to live here any more”. Knowing her Achilles heel is her love of food, I replied “Go ahead, but the food is rubbish in children’s homes; no one will make you chocolate pudding or marinated tofu with mushrooms” (her favourite dinner and dessert) She sloped off to her room, in disgust not only that I had won, but at the shocking lack of provision for picky vegetarians in social care.
Many years ago I read Nineteen Eighty-Four, (long before it inspired a couple of rubbish reality TV shows) stunned by its vision of a totalitarian future, it seemed so unthinkable. Yet here we all are. I’m off to yell at my daughter. It’s OK, I am CRB checked.