Tuesday 26th September 2000
Meeting at New College with Gerard, Anna and Emile
This meeting began a little before 5.30, after being dropped off by a colleague on my way back from school.
I met Gerard on the way in. He was just getting his dinner. I went to wait in the staffroom, and talked to the teachers left there. When Gerard had finished dinner, he came back and we chatted about the new term, and his new duties - he is taking a trip every Tuesday now. He then called down to the hostels for Emile and Anna - Katie was away.
Anna arrived, but Emile was doing Prep duty, as he is a Prefect - as is Anna.
I went to the art room with Anna, and we talked about her work. She told me that she is going to do photography as her A Level personal study, and that she wishes to study art at college after finishing at New College but she has not decided where to apply yet - she is just in the process of deciding and applying at the moment.
I had a conversation with Anna about her current work. I asked her where the tiles were that she was producing and she had shown me during one of our previous meetings. Anna told me that she had taken away her other work, although she was developing it for her previous study. Also in the room was Katie's painting of a still life. I recognised the style from one of Katie's last set of drawings and paintings that she had shown me in our initial meeting. Anna commented that the work was Katie's and that it was carefully constructed. We walked up to the painting and Anna looked at it very closely. She also mentioned that she was colour blind.
During this meeting I also asked Anna if I was able to photograph her work as part of the research. On hearing that she was also doing photography exercises, I asked her if she would mind allowing me to copy some of her negatives for my study. She agreed to both. I mentioned to Anna that I would give her a copy of the photographs that I took of her artwork if she wanted, and said that these might be useful for her eventual A Level coursework. She said that it would be useful.
During our conversation, she also commented that the thing that she liked most, or found most interesting, about her current photography project was the red light - I assumed she meant in the dark room. Because it she was colour blind, she liked this light because it turned orange. When we were talking about Katie's painting, she also mentioned that she liked the picture and the colours that Katie used, despite the fact that she was also colour blind. However, Anna also said that she was very worried about how se would develop the film for her photographs during her individual study.
During our conversation, I also mentioned that I really liked the art room in New College. Anna said that she really liked it, as well as really enjoying the school. She also said that she enjoyed it since she was new to the school and therefore had not seen any changes. She also mentioned that some people who had been at the college for a period were unhappy with the change. However, I did not elaborate on this point, and I certainly did not push the point any further. Nevertheless, I did ask Anna were she had gone to school before, and she mentioned her previous schools in London. I plan to cover this issue with her further in future meetings.
After a short while, Emile arrived and said that there was a problem. He said that he was down to do prep duty, and that he would have to find cover - I also noticed he looked different because he had shaved off his trademark beard from before the summer. Anna said that she would cover his prep duty for a while, and so he could stay and talk to me. Anna then left.
I first asked Emile how he had enjoyed his holiday over the summer. He said that he had enjoyed it, but did not get the opportunity to do much. I then asked him what he was doing at the moment during his work, and he told me that he was working with pottery again.
During the meeting, Emile and I went to look at his pottery. I had seen this before but he described how he had either developed or was going to develop two particular pieces that were not yet glazed. I asked him during this discussion whether the pots that he had made and was to glaze were made from the clay he had dug himself - as I had remembered talking to him about the digging of his own clay before. Emile said that these pots weren't, and that I could tell because the clay that had been used to make the pots had been rigid and was light in colour. This is because commercial clay had powdered clay added to it to maintain its rigidity. The clay he had dug was far to wet to mould a pot from. He had tried to make and then bake a tile with this clay, but the tile had melted in the kiln during its firing. He showed me the result of this melting, a round, flat pancake looking shape baked solid on the stone that it had been fired on. I commented that this effect looked like a gaze, rather than a piece of fired clay. Emile said that it was and that he likes the effect, which he put up close to his face to have a look at.
Whilst looking at pieces that Emile had made previously, I pointed out to him that two of these pieces had cracks in them. He said that he realised this and that he would have to fix it himself. He showed me a chemical that he had used to paint on two of his pieces previously, which he said that he had painted on a couple of pots. However, when he had put this chemical inside a yoghurt pot so that he could paint it on the cracked clay from before, he found that the chemical had melted through the yoghurt pot. Emile said that he would have to learn to use this chemical properly in future. (However, Emile did not say where he had come by this chemical.)
During our discussion, I also asked Emile about the Racu pottery that he was making for his personal study. He said that he had found a lady in Worcester through another teacher at the school, a food technology teacher that would help him with his project. He was going down to meet her soon. She was, however, a very reputable artist he had heard. He showed me some of the pottery he had been trying out when he had tried to develop this Ragu style of pottery. He showed me two pieces of this Racu, one he commented was very accurate and was the one Gerard had made in order to demonstrate the Racu technique. The other he showed me he commented was less accurate and had a very rough base. He said that this was one of his first attempts at producing Racu pottery on his own.
Emile then described how he was going to develop his project by making his own kiln, which had to be of a special construction to heat the pottery to a very high temperature. In order to make this kiln, Emile said that he would have to build it in a corner of the playing field. I asked Emile if he had been given permission to create this kiln, and he said that he hadn't. However, he mentioned where he wanted to build it was in part of the biology teachers patch of land he left for his nature studies, and seeing as he had helped the biology teacher by digging out some of this land for a pond some years ago, that he was owed a favour by this biology teacher. However, he did not mention how he planned to construct the kiln himself.
During this meeting, I also asked Emile what he planned to do when he left New College, and did he plan to apply for Art College. He said that he wasn't going to, but instead he was going to try and apply to college to study reptiles. I asked whether he planned to take a degree course, but he said not. I also asked him whether he was taking biology A Level, and he said that he had begun this course in the lower sixth, but given it up because it was too hard. For this reason he was thinking of applying to an agricultural college that he had heard of that ran an HND in this subject. He also mentioned that he had always been interested in this subject.
At the end of our meeting, I asked Emile about his previous school experiences, mentioning the comments that he had made in his tape. I also asked him how long he had been at New College. We carried on this conversation as we left the art room and made our way back along the corridor. Emile commented that he had been at New College ten years now, but when he had first arrived he was very behind in his studies - he reached the age of eighteen when he was in the lower sixth form, and so I presumed that he has been put back a year. Emile said that when he reached new college aged nine, he could hardly read or write. Emile also said that this previous mainstream school had not taught him well. He said that they had only taken him on for the money, and that although they had tried to teach him Braille, it was not very expertly done. Emile then when he had reached New College he had had to work to catch up with his studies.
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