You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Roy Clark’ tag.

A Step Back In Time

‘If perfection could be achieved it wouldn’t be worth having

A return to Thorpe Hall, 43 years later. Back in June 1974 I spent a day here painting a landscape for my ‘A’ level Art paper and made reference to it in a previous blog about my school art teacher ‘The Importance Of Being Nobby’.

I knew the place would have changed. I’d simply remembered sitting in a meadow looking at a boarded up building located somewhere within the hall grounds. It took a while to find the exact spot, but then it suddenly unveiled itself. The sky had become a classic ‘Tur-kwarzy Blooo’ and inside my head I heard the nasal tone of Nobby shouting ‘Hands out the pockets boy!’. Not much had really altered. The wild flower filled field had become a car park, the trees had been cut back and new housing could seen at the exit, a hedge had appeared alongside what was once a gravel track and the building I’d focussed upon is now an attractive renovated gate house – other than that, the view still looked very similar.

This was where I produced my last painting before embarking on an art school career and I’ve often been tempted to revisit the site of one of the oldest compositions I still possess. Other than my grandmother’s living room it has made only one other appearance in public, being included in my ‘Landmarks & Milestones’ exhibition a couple of years ago. In 1974 the teenage me was convinced the painting was a complete and utter disaster and I’ve never waivered from that opinion. Nevertheless, I’ve also wanted to see whether that point of view was well founded. Returning to the scene of the crime with reproduction in hand to make a retrospective assessment I’ve learned that perhaps I needn’t have given myself such a hard time. The painting was probably alright after all.

It could be said that today I was back where it all started – but this time I didn’t lose my temper!

The Importance Of Being Nobby

‘If you start me up
If you start me up I’ll never stop, never stop, never, never, ever stop………….

Many of my paintings have a hidden story and the memory of producing them is often indelible, which is one reason why I find so much difficulty parting with them. This one was painted in 1974 when I was 18 years old, in the grounds of Thorpe Hall, Peterborough.

SLATER-Thorpe HallI was very unhappy with this painting and it has survived only because my grandmother prevented me from tearing it to shreds and throwing it in the bin. As far as I was concerned, it was a disaster. She, however, effectively stole it from me and it hung on the wall of her living room until she died in 2006.

It was produced as the answer to the landscape paper for my Art A level, the last of the three sections which that exam comprised. Accompanied by our Art teacher there were about half a dozen of us sitting in various positions around Thorpe Hall that day and I remember it was sunny, warm and quiet, an idyllic spot to paint ‘en plein air’ close to the heart of the city. Not for me though, I struggled from start to finish. It was one of those very frustrating painting days when I felt everything was going hopelessly wrong.

After about two and a half hours the tranquility and silence was broken by the fizzing sound of a drawing board flying through the air, and heads turned in unison to witness it nosedive and disappear into long grass about 30 feet away. Unlike a boomerang it didn’t come back. I felt exasperated and, like my painting, I then hurled myself off in the opposite direction. I didn’t nosedive into long grass, I just took a long hike. As far as I was concerned my A level landscape submission was worm food.

My art teacher during my time at Deacon’s School was Mr ER Clark. We called him ‘Sir’ to his face, otherwise he was ‘Nobby’. During my early years at the school he scared me to bits, as did many of the staff. When he was around no-one dared to speak and to have hair touching the collar or hands in pockets risked receipt of the death penalty. On one occasion I had to provide him with an essay, ’10 pages on Dürer, 10 words a line, for tomorrow morning’, for not having my tie done up correctly.

Early years were tough but as we grew older another side slowly revealed itself. Although he would always have a sharp bite he began to present a different character. He became someone we could converse with and there was a wicked humour at times too. When I was a sixth former I innocently asked him why he’d kept a treadle pottery wheel as there were 3 electrically powered wheels in the art room and suggested he should perhaps sell it as an antique. From nowhere words suddenly hit me like a machine gun, gaining in volume as they gained pace. In one breath and without punctuation he gave me the full barrage – ‘That wheel has been in this studio for 18 years I’ve been here for 18 years if that’s an antique then I’m an antique is that what you’re calling me Slater? An ANTIQUE????!!!!!!! Blown completely away by the shock, I floundered for words. I was rooted to the spot, my mouth agape. He turned on his heels and skipped away, leaving me wilting, while my comrades stood like Garfield puppets glued to the art room windows.

Later that year I submitted two articles which were printed in ‘The Deaconian’ publication. The first described a day in the life of a long suffering Art teacher, the second was a Top of the Pops styled Best Sellers List, using song titles which I felt reflected different members of staff. Next to Mr Clark I wrote Alice Cooper’s ‘No More Mr Nice Guy’.

Returning to that A level landscape day in June ’74, instead of the hairdryer treatment a voice of calm tracked me down, with a suggestion that tossing my board into the abyss should really not be my final creative act as a Deacon’s School Art Student. I was encouraged to reassess the situation and continue the assignment. Regardless of the resulting painting, it was the right thing to do and another lesson learned. Things don’t necessarily ever go the way you want, but it’s important never to give up. Perseverance is the key.

Nobby provided us with a huge catalogue of catchphrases spoken with a voice that resonated through his nose and when our Sixth form Art group left the school, not only did we present him with an engraved tankard as a goodbye gift, we also wrote 50 of his well worn ones on parchment in the finest calligraphy we could muster. Of my favourites, ‘Chatting!’, ‘Duck Egg Blue’, ‘It’s the old, old story’, ‘You can’t see the wood for the trees’, ‘Look for the green in the hair’, ‘Slater you’re making the breasts look like brass bowls’ and his particular and individual pronunciation of the colour ‘Tur-kwarze’ (Turquoise), will stay with me forever.

When I wasn’t accepted at my first choice college for my Foundation Art year my disappointment was overwhelming, however he spoke to me in harsh terms. ‘It isn’t the end of the world’, he said, ‘Get in at your second choice instead’. I did, at Loughborough, and from there I progressed to Coventry for a BA Hons course in Fine Art, where I met my future wife. He was right. It wasn’t the end of the world, it was only the start of it.

I kept in touch with him while at art school and would often pay him a visit when I was home. We continued to meet at intervals when I became a Lecturer myself and he visited several of my exhibitions, which included both solo and group shows. A few years ago he contacted me to say he no longer had need of his personal art materials and he passed them on to me. In the summer of 2005 I held a solo exhibition at the Blandscliff Gallery in Scarborough, the work produced using Nobby’s materials.

So what is the role of a teacher? When does it end? During my years at school I feared him but his teaching developed my practical skills as well as instilling discipline in my studio practise. Nobby never presented Art as being recreational or the ‘rest’ lesson. Although I was genuinely interested in the subject, it was he that got me going and for that I am eternally grateful.

After leaving school I maintained contact for 40 years and he became a friend, despite the fact I never used his preferred name. He would often repeat the line ‘Colin. Call me Roy’. I would always reply, ‘Okay……..Sir’. He was a constant source of reassurance, encouragement and constructive criticism. Above all, I knew I could trust his opinion and he would always tell me the truth. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today. It’s as simple as that.

Last summer I visited a different him in hospital. Today I attended his funeral. Tomorrow there will be a collection of angels seriously ticked off for talking in assembly.

Thanks for everything Nobby. I’m really going to miss you. You started me up, and now I’ve started, I won’t ever stop………………..


Edward Roy Clark
27.6.27 – 16.2.14

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)


3 Parts Dirt! 10cc Abba AC/DC Achille-Etna Michallon Ajaz Akhtar Alberto Giacometti Albrecht Durer Alice in Wonderland Amsterdam Andrew Wyeth Andy Warhol Antonio Vivaldi Arctic Monkeys Art History Atomic Rooster Banksy Beatles Benjamin Marshall Bernard Cribbins Black Black Sunday Blondie Bob & Marcia Bob Marley Boxing Brushes app. Caesar Cambridge Camille Corot Cancer Canned Heat Castle Caverstede Early Years Centre 'Bigger Picture' Chalk Pastel Charcoal Charles R. Knight Charlie Small Children's Books Christo Claude Monet Coldplay Corinne Bailey Rae Coventry Creative Partnerships Crete Cricket Daniel Lambert Darren Fraser David Bomberg David Bowie Deacon's School Dennis Creffield Diego Velάzquez Discovery Primary School Django Reinhardt Dogsthorpe Academy Drawing Dr Strangely Strange Edgar Degas Edvard Munch Egypt Elizabeth Vigée Le Brun Elton John Elvis Costello en plein air Epping Forest Europe Eurythmics Evolve magazine Exhibition Fitzwilliam Museum Floella Benjamin Foo Fighters Football Forest Schools Fosse Mead Primary Francesco Guardi Frank Auerbach Fred Astaire Frida Kahlo Fulbridge School Garage Door Gary Moore Gene Wilder Gentle Giant George Bellows Georges Braque Georgio de Chirico Gerry Rafferty Gian Lorenzo Bernini Gingerbread Man Giovanni Bellini Gladiator Glasgow Boys Glenn Frey Gnarls Barkley Greece Gruffalo Gustav Klimt Haiku Hands Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Hercules Brabazon Brabazon Hiroshige Hokusai Ian Anderson Impressionism iPad Iron Curtain Jacob van Ruisdael Jacques Brel James Abbott McNeill Whistler Jamiroquai Jazz Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres Jean-Francois Millet Jethro Tull JMW Turner Joe Cocker Johannes Vermeer John Constable John Lennon Johnny Kidd & the Pirates Juan Sánchez Cotán Jurassic Way Killer Shrimp King's Cliffe Endowed Primary School King's Cliffe Primary Kit Downes Quintet KT Tunstall Lanchester Polytechnic Landscape Landscape painting Lascaux Laurel Barbieri Leningrad Lenny Kravitz Len Tabner Leonardo da Vinci Lewis Carroll Little Red Riding Hood Loch Craignish Lonnie Donegan Luke Steele Lynyrd Skynyrd Mad Hatter Madness Manfred Mann's Earth Band March Hare Marvin Gaye Meadowside Primary School Media Media Archive for Central England Michael Jackson MichelAngelo Modest Mussorgsky Mosaic Moscow Mural Muse Music National Gallery Newark Hill Primary Nickel Creek Nick Ward Nina Simone Oasis Obsidian Art Gallery Owl Painting Panda Panorama Paul Cezanne Paul Gauguin Peterborough Peter Paul Rubens Picasso Pieter Bruegel the Elder Pirates Pleurisy Pneumonia Portrait Procul Harem Queen Radio 3 Essential Classics Rafael Alberti Rainforest Ray Charles Red Hot Chili Peppers Rembrandt van Rijn Rene Magritte River Nene Roald Dahl Rock Music Rod Campbell Rodrigo y Gabriela Rod Stewart Rogier van der Weyden Rolling Stones Romans Rome Rowlatts Hill Primary School Royal Academy Roy Clark Russia Salvator Rosa Sarah Walker Scotland Seascape Self Portrait Sheryl Crow Sistine Chapel Small Faces Sport St. Brendan's Primary School Steppenwolf Stereophonics Talking Heads Terry Jacks The Automatic The BFG The Crooked House Himley The Editors The Jam The Killers The Moody Blues The Red Deltas The Sensational Alex Harvey Band Thin Lizzy Thomas Faed Tina Turner Titchmarsh School Titian Tom Jones Totem Pole Trompe l'oeil Tuscany USSR Venice Vienna Vincent Van Gogh Volcanic Voyager Academy Warmington School We Are Scientists William Hogarth William Law Primary School Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club YouTube

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.