ISLE OF WIGHT, United Kingdom
In the 1950’s I attended a life drawing evening class at Kingston Art school, & Saturday mornings did Fashion Drawing at Wimbledon Art school.
I failed the 11+. You could have another go at 13 – not to go to the Grammar school ! Instead it gave you a choice – girls could go to Pitman’s College and learn shorthand/typing, boys could go to the local Technical College where wood/metal work and engineering was on offer.
The alternative for both was an experimental 2 year Art course run by a local secondary school. We went to the school one day per week for PE. Music and Science. The rest of our more portable subjects - English, Maths, History, Geography, Drama and RE. etc - were all delivered through art - in a room above the local Registrar, next to the Fire Station, a mile away from the school. The expectation was that we would gain a good Art ‘A’ level- to enable us to go on to do an Art degree at Kingston Art school, a year ahead of others.
I could not face another 3 years of art study, a draw back to early specialisation.
I got a job as workroom assistant/student at the Royal School of Needlework in Kensington – for a princely £5 p.w. A couple of years later I moved on becoming a junior millenary copyist. This was the time when you could go out in your lunch time and bluff your way into another millenary workroom asking for another ‘10 bob’ (50p pw.) Eventually I got into the workroom where they had the licence to make hats for Dior. Doing piecework, I sometimes got to take home a dizzying £25/30+ p.w
Unable to make hats casually or internationally I took over from a pregnant friend, as a receptionist/girl-Friday to a large property company in their Park Lane office. I travelled extensively in the late 60’s. Returning to UK I was now ready to do a degree and took a teachers training course at London University.
Over the next three of decades I married, raised a family and taught Art and Textiles Technology to 13–18 year olds in schools in Berkshire.
You don’t realise how much of a ‘jack of all trades’ you become when teaching – so now in my retirement on the Isle of Wight, I belong to two Art groups with whom I exhibit and enjoy practicing my skills of painting, especially watercolour.