A Day in the Life of a Long-Suffering Sixth Form Art Master

As usual on a Wednesday morning, the sixth form equivalents to Augustus John lounge in the Pottery Room chatting about the previous night’s life class. Suddenly through the door bursts the Art Master, complete with lunch pack and vacuum flask, with hair gradually greying at the edges after suffering for years with Sixthformitis.

“What was the attendance like last night, Jostins?” he asks as he passes by into the Art Room. The laddie to whom the question was directed hurriedly removes his hands from his pockets and follows him drearily, the rest of us following suit.

“Everyone there except Spinks, Sir.”

“What again! I’ll have to have a word with young Spinks,” he said, removing his trusty overcoat (also greying at the edges). “Well?”

“Well, I had football training, and I’ve got an exam today, and it was my birthday, and it was raining, and we had relations ’round, and …………”

“Oh, come come, Spinks, that’s an old one, don’t pull the wool over my eyes. The tech put on this class for your benefit, and I feel it is an essential part of your ‘A’ level course, and you’re just kicking them in the teeth, aren’t you? Now then, pull yourself together lad, there’s not long before your ‘A’ level examination.”

From Spinks he turns his head toward the rest of us, still standing in a huddle next to the Pottery Room door. Realising that he’s now looking in our direction, we awake and remove our hands from our pockets again.

“What, no model this morning?” he asks.

“He hasn’t arrived yet,” someone mumbles.

“Oh well, we’ll have a quick look at your weekend landscapes then.”

Suddenly, the Art Room is transformed into Deacon’s answer to the Tate Gallery with paintings pasted to every square inch of the blackboard.

“This must be Jostins’, I recognise the colours. Is this PVA green? It reminds me of a colour television.”

The characteristic Jostins “Mmm” is grunted either in agreement or his own interpretation of YOUVEGOTACHEEK.

He moves towards the next. “Is this yours, Barnes?”

“Yes,” the boy replies slowly.

He scrutinises the rest of the paintings with his expert eye for a sign of a budding Van Gogh or Gauguin, but yet again, there isn’t one.

“Well, it’s the old, old story, I’m afraid. Hilton, how long did you spend on this?”

“24 hours, Sir.”

“There you are. You’re just not spending adequate time. Yes, I’ll accept it for what it is, now go and take it that one step further and …….”

Unfortunately he is cut off in full swing as the bell rings and, all breathing sighs of relief, we plod out of the room.

Leaving by the Pottery Room exit we see 3B, some carrying the latest style in 10 side essays, lining up for their next Art lesson (another reason for the greying hair?). I don’t know who I feel the more sympathy for.

Colin Slater, Lower VI Art
(Published in ‘The Deaconian’ 1973)