Very excitingly indeed, I have been accepted onto the Friends of Putney School of Art and Design committee. I will be helping them with attracting younger people to take part in their events and fundraising by putting in place a social media strategy, starting with a Facebook page, which is in progress as I write. In the meantime, here are is my second ever project created at the art school, my Godrevy vases; inspired by ‘Jamaica Inn country’, the North coast of Cornwall, where my Dad lives:

Godrevy vases

Godrevy vases

They play with the contradictory ideas of soft bends in a hard substance, and echo the colours and textures of the North Cornish coast. The art school has a very special place in my heart…

…as it saved me, as I suspect it did many other people, from quite a dark time in my life. I was working very long hours and was uncharacteristically unhappy, when I slowly came to the realisation that creativity wasn’t something that was optional for me. It was something that I truly needed in my life in order to be happy. I heard a rumour at the time that when people signed up for a course at the art school, their lives changed – and I think that’s true. There are many stories of people who ended up emigrating, or finally leaving unhappy relationships. For me, it was less dramatic, but no less important – I learnt that I had to be creative to survive. And I think that’s true for many of the students at PSAD, which is what makes it such an important part of Putney life.

I  make no apology for stealing the following lock, stock and barrel from the FPSAD website, because I think it gives the best explanation of who The Friends are, and what they (and I suppose now ‘we’!) do…

How The ‘Friends’ Came Together
by Margaret Knott(Vice Chairman & Publicity)

“One Friday in November 1998 a rumour, which turned out to be true, swept through the corridors of Putney School of Art. The School was to be closed.

On the following Monday, Rob Dark, the student representative, Eric Larmont, teacher, and Margaret Knott met and realised they had to do something very quickly indeed if the Art School was to be saved.

It was an incredible stroke of luck that Rob Dark was the student representative at the time. His experience as an architect with Islington Borough Council made him invaluable, and his calm and ordered manner were fantastic assets.

The first of many meetings were held and supporters signed a book and wrote letters to the council. A group was then formed to decide what to do next. Various people offered their skills, including designing a Friends’ letter heading and carrying out a major survey of students’ opinions. Undemocratically, a committee was appointed. They were:
Ray Barker, because he had a distinctive signature and a lot of experience with Blackheath School of Art; Jenny Alexander because she was remembered as the short person in black at the meeting not letting go of any argument – she also happened to be an accountant!; Morrie Tabak had been in advertising and had good computer skills; Michael Hatfield was a journalist and writer, and Michael Holmes – because he was always there!

Michael Homes wrote and produced a history of the School, and Morrie Tabak produced lots of leaflets. They have both since stepped down and been replaced by Alison Brooke, an excellent secretary, Jenny Kershaw, very experienced in education, Vicki Garthwaite, for her excellent experience in organising events and producing the newsletter, and Janet Mays for her long experience in the arts.

After many meetings, petitions, discussions and heartaches, Councillor Edward Lister, then leader of the Council, declared at a full public meeting that there would always be an art school on the Oxford Road site.

The committee’s job since the reopening of PSAD is to support and promote the school as a centre for education in art and design and to protect the school as a resource for the community.”

It is a great honour to join this group of people, who gave their time and energy freely, and stood up for what they believed in – to ensure there was an art school there when I needed it; and they still do those things now. I sincerely hope their ongoing work, and my contribution, means it can be there for future generations too.

For more info re courses at the art school, click here, and for more info re the Friends click here. Do get in touch if you’d like to get involved. And watch this space for details of the Facebook page, which we aim to launch in the autumn.