I just got back from London, where I took a week-long illustration course at Central Saint Martin’s. It was a very challenging time; partly because I was traveling and staying alone for the very first time, but mainly because the art course pushed me out of my comfort zone. Our focus was editorial illustration, something I am not used to. The teacher also kept making us re-work the drawings over and over, which was frustrating, but necessary.
But I had lots of fun and came back full of ideas and inspiration. I loved being in a drawing environment, surrounded by art supplies and passionate people. Free from distractions, I spent the whole day drawing. We focused on the process — of coming up with ideas, experimenting, and exploring further — rather than ending up with pretty pictures. Our main project for the week was illustrating Freud’s essay The Uncanny. We also had to come up with a poster for the British Library. To research that project, we walked around inside the library, sketching the people, the architecture, the books.
During my stay, I met people from nearly every continent. First off, the five other girls in my class, with whom I got along really well, came from Singapore, South Korea, Lithuania, Argentina and Columbia. But I also met people at the college where I was staying : a historian from Australia, a theology student from Manchester, a musical-goer from Japan, a postman from Leeds. Such interesting conversations, and insights into different lives.
I’d expected to have time for visiting London (I’d spent an embarrassing amount of time researching tea shops in the area). However, the course was so intensive — we had homework! — that I didn’t really do much visiting. On my first day in London, I did make it to the British Museum. Sadly, however, both tea shops I’d found in the area were closed because of Bank Holiday.
Yet I should not have despaired! Later in the week the whole class went out for tea at Drink, Shop & Do. It’s a funky place that sells everything from tea leaves to skeins of yarn, and hosts all kinds of events. When we were there, we were given lumps of clay and a picture of Lionel Richie. We were supposed to sculpt his head, while his songs played in the background.
But what of the tea? Well, we ordered “tea for two”, which comes with a little cake-and-sandwich stand. I advise you to simply order a cup of their Bakewell tea. It’s delicious, while the cakes and sandwiches are nothing exceptional.
On my last day in London, visiting the House of Illustration (!) was an absolute must, as they currently have an exhibit about Quentin Blake, one of my favourite illustrators. I met two friends from my course there, and from there we headed to the National Gallery, where we walked around and sketched!
Soon after I was homeward-bound on the Eurostar — feeling glad to be home, sad to leave my class and friends, and very happy and inspired.