Up front I will declare my position. In 1986-7 I was interviewed twice by the great and the then good at Goldsmiths.
The interviewers in first instance included Nick De Ville (Graphic Designer responsible for Roxy Music covers who had done a fine art degrees at Derby and Newcastle hence Roxy link and he still at Goldsmiths in charge of MAâ€™sâ€¦.god help us) and Mary (Post-partum Document) Kelly â€“ her of the feacal stains etcâ€¦.not promising and guess what it didnâ€™t go well. However because I had a studio and looked serious they tried again a year later when I didnâ€™t have a studio.
My abiding memory of that first interview was their combined excitement about a black canvas I was about to paint on as they riffed on its â€˜potentialâ€™ ignoring virtually everything I had to say. They completely missed every reference to painting and Francis Bacon I was making..maybe they thought after another year Iâ€™d come to my postmodernist senses and toe their line.
A year later Iâ€™d scraped by in a crap job and lost two studios in rapid succession so had to do interview in my housing association house on the north circular (not as pleasant as leafy Sarf London) I forget the interviewers (different) but I do remember a prat of a female MA student whose latest work was a row of binbags â€¦tremendous stuffâ€¦.She was so rude she didnâ€™t even enter the room where my paintings wereâ€¦maybe they scared herâ€¦.all that formalism..nakedâ€¦..
Within seconds of the interview commencing Iâ€™d been rejected on basis that mentioning Peter Fuller was tantamount to joining the Nazi Party. You see I hadnâ€™t realised that being a working class student from a council estate was good but thinking in a non-Goldsmiths way was bad. Make no mistake there was a clearly delineated â€˜party lineâ€™ at Goldsmithsâ€¦despite appearances (i.e. white rich middle class tossers) these people from Craig-Martin down were ushering in a new era where one could have it all..marxist left-wing views and right-wing travel and pay packets. Its called the hipocracy my friends.
Looking back it was the defining moment in my entire artistic life. It was us and them and I pretty much been of same opinion ever since. My â€™self-portraitsâ€™ (a tradition extending back several hundred years darlinks) were too closed off and personal and used too much paint and chalk..yes I dared to actually drawâ€¦. I referred to the OLD GARDEâ€¦Graham Sutherland, Â Henry Moore and John Piper who were now in the Stalinist â€˜new ageâ€™ considered patriarchal monsters and worst of all I mentioned Fullerâ€¦.a reactionary traitor who had started on their side but had fled their camp. Hence the squealing antipathy.
What Goldsmiths led the way in every other Art College has aped as they stumbled on that stamp of authorityâ€¦CASHâ€¦oodles of it following Craig-Martin and Hirstâ€™s great scam (enabled by the true joker in the pack Joplingâ€¦no Jopling and Goldsmiths would have crumbled to insignificance by now). Instead it went stratospheric and is still living off that moment 25 years later..no matter that virtually none of its graduates has anything like the gravity or talent of a Moore or Sutherland..they had reaped the new money from the Thatcherist experimentâ€¦.and as good socialists they werenâ€™t going to give it backâ€¦.oh no this was all part of the irony as was my backgroundâ€¦I was just an unenlightened member of the working classes deluded by notions of craftsmanship and talentâ€¦so very passe darlinksâ€¦.only the feeble still dealt in actual mark making and daubing this was the brave new world of ideas not craft.
Twenty-five years on and every other art college has either directly imitated or followed jealously in the Goldsmiths experiment wake. It will be interesting to see in an era of falling revenues and a hostile government (right or left) how much of it survives the next twenty-five years. My prediction is that we have seen the last of this â€˜low dishonest two decades and a halfâ€™ (to paraphrase Auden) of peurile postmodernism and that we in for a bumpy ride across the whole artsâ€¦especially fine art.
There is a glut of badly trained, Â intellectually impoverished â€˜post conceptualistsâ€™ students littering our streets and all the indicators are we in for a downturn in numbersâ€¦imposed or through natural selectionâ€¦..mummy and daddy wonâ€™t take kindly to funding a career that doesnâ€™t â€˜pay-offâ€™ like in the 1990â€™s. The Art Star is on the point of burnout and nobody has a replacement hence the desperate angling for attention (see link below). I thought I was right in 1986 and I think exactly the same nowâ€¦..we must turn back to craftsmanship..to Fuller and rebuild the system from below as Goldsmiths and other â€˜Ozymandiasâ€™ institutions sink in the sands of recession and the new reality.
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