• Vol. 08
  • Chapter 11
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Art college was a crashing disappointment. Understatement. I loved to draw; I loved to paint. But I lacked the tools and technique. I wanted to draw the human figure; I wanted to paint landscapes, use watercolours, acrylic, oils. But I needed the basic skills. That’s what I thought I’d get from Art college. Duh. What did we do? We mucked about with bits of MDF. We threw paint around. We found objects and subverted their meaning. But I stuck it out for the first term. Then we had to produce a single three-dimensional piece as part of our January assessment. I didn’t want to do it and I left it and left it until the evening before the final submission date when I was on the point of jacking the whole thing in. I went down to the kitchen to look for something to nibble. Maybe a banana. Or an apple. Nada. Only a wrinkled clementine left over from Christmas, one of the expensive ones where you pay extra for the leaves.   I didn’t fancy eating it but I rather liked it so I took it up and put it on my desk. Sideways it looked like a bird with a leaf beak. I thought of calling it Despair, but it didn’t look sad so I called it Hope. That gave me the idea. It needed a body. I tried a rolled-up sock, a scrunched coke can. Then I looked in my drawer labelled Art Misc and I found two packs of that blue adhesive putty for sticking things on walls which I’d bought half price when the stationery shop was closing. It was in strips so I rolled all the strips up together, bashed them about a bit, curved them and sat Hope on top of one of the ends. Hmm. Better but not quite. Now it needed a perch, something brown or black to set off the blue. Hadn’t got any coal. Back to the drawer – Indian ink, yes, maybe. What could I dye with Indian ink? Kitchen. How do you make pastry? Flour, any old fat, sunflower oil will do, and diluted ink. Mould it a bit to look like a rock. Stick it in a low oven for a couple of hours. Bingo. Well, not quite, but good enough. Let it cool overnight. In the morning, I stuck Hope onto his plinth. Then I took him into college. I got a first.