United Kingdom #8: Past, Present, And Future

 Anna Mischenko ‘19 reflects on her time in the UK, while looking forward to the groups last week in London. 

LOOKING BACK: Yesterday’s discussion about our past week compared our expectations going into London versus our new experiences. While most of us imagined a large financial center filled with double-decker buses and red telephone booths, none of us pictured the bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere that we have come to call home. From our spontaneous adventures through Camden market to our excursions throughout Bristol’s graffiti alleys, we have discovered a thriving, diverse community, clashing the old world with the ever-changing, new reality.

LOOKING FORWARD: As we write our goals for the last week of this trip, we hope to discover more vivacious city nooks, hidden-gem cuisines and thought-provoking artwork. Last week, we dipped our toes into the artist lifestyle and now we can finally hone our skills, traverse beyond our own comfort zones and delve into the world of contemporary art in today’s society.

Here are some goals we wrote:

1. Be more comfortable with different mediums.
2. Get to know the city even better.
3. Take risks!
4. Don’t take anything for granted with the short time we have left.
5. Retain all our lessons and friendships beyond London.

BREAKFAST HIGHLIGHTS: Mad receives a delicious, extra-large hot chocolate; Jack drafts up his latest masterpiece, left untitled because, as he quotes, “to give it a name would be to disrespect it;” the group debates about the perfect avocado-to-toast ratio; we speculate what our week will entail because today we start official art classes – From Drawing to Sculpture – at Central Saint Martin’s!

MORNING: Lucy and Cynthia become teachers for the day and give a crash-course on texture; we tackle drawing fur, denim, scales and feathers with any medium we have laying in our daypacks. The two only give 3 minutes for each task, leaving our work filled with quick charcoal smudges and runny watercolor; yet, amongst the seeming chaos of our experiments, some of us successfully produce realistic renditions.

FIRST CLASS: After a brief hiccup with arriving at the wrong Central Saint Martin’s campus, forcing us to scurry onto the next bus and travel 14 stops, we finally discover our cool classroom for the week. Situated on the 3d floor, our studio presents us with floors covered in dynamic shapes. Mark and Rochelle, our art teachers, introduce themselves and jump straight to experimentation. Our challenge? To craft a sculpture from select objects – buckets, tables, wires, chairs – within the taped boundaries, exploring the negative space. Minds race wildly with creativity and our furniture is now turned upside down or suspended; we create movement frozen in time. Next assignment? To now draw our contemporary sculptures in black charcoal on GIANT paper.

LUNCH WORRIES: As soon as class ended, we are set off in groups to have lunch on our own in the surrounding area; yet, the ticking time proves a challenge. Despite sitting down at a nearby restaurant 45 minutes before our time of return, we seem to only have a couple minutes left as soon as the food arrives. The group takes a few bites and sprints back to the studio, ready to work again.

AFTERNOON: While the first class was about everything big, now we switch gears to miniature objects. Each student gets an ominous jar, stashing trinkets of daily life: coins, keys, stamp posts and paperclips. Our challenge? To draw inspiration from these tiny objects and to create experimental monoprints. After Mark and Rochelle explain how to properly roll ink onto Plexiglas sheets and lay paper to achieve cool effects. Our now-abstract minds concoct repeating figures of candy to textured fish to cubist forms. We are no longer just artists; we have become adventurous experimenters.

DINNER HIGHLIGHTS: The group visits Gloucester for a trustee dinner and meets several alumni; we finally get to pet a dog – a cute white Maltese – “the fluffiest little fur ball Bugsy” as Natasha describes; we talk to the publisher of Harry Potter and our hostess, the first Deerfield girl; we learn old class cheers, like “smoke Choate!“ – courtesy of Class of ’73; we relish in lobster dumplings, duck rolls, chocolate-covered strawberries and the endless tiramisus; we now realize the expanse of our Deerfield network across all generations.

• Natasha: “Experimental, Outgoing, Challenging”
• Lucy: “Trying new things!”
• Mad: “Fancy, Puppy, Charcoal”
• Maddie: “Productive, New, Conversation”
• Cynthia: “Fun, Creative, Refreshing”