Together Again - South London Gallery
Together Again, The South London Gallery, 1976
An Exhibition of ex-Camberwell Students.
Brian Blunden, Fred Bromfield, Jane Joseph, Judith Kerlander, Alan Mackay, Sargy Mann, Tom Phillips, Terry Raybould, Peter Saunders, Alfred Stockham, Gloria Wheeler, Philip White, Laetitia Yhap.
One of the bonuses of being an art teacher is to experience, from time to time, with surprise and pleasure the re-emergence of students one has known in the past. The pleasure is in their continued activity as artists; the surprise is frequently in what they are now doing. It would be tempting to look back with pedagogic indulgence to the time when they were students and try to isolate in their present flowering the seeds so hopefully nurtured—did X ever quite understand about drawing? I see that Y still uses very odd shapes,—Z has now fortunately abandoned any attempt to get his tones right—and has A finally got away from his elegant pastiches?
This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to look at the current work of a group of contemporaries of about ten years ago. It came about from the initiative of a few of them, getting together and deciding that it would be interesting to show their work together. Interesting too apart from all being at Camberwell at the same time, is the common ground that they were among the last painting students to do the old N.D.D. (National Diploma in Design), which was then the prevailing system of art education. For this you had to do two paintings and an essay. One was a life painting (‘both hands and feet must be visible to all candidates’), and the other a ‘composition’ on a set subject. Your efforts were internally marked and sent en bloc, along with hundreds of others, to the Ministry of Education, who then did their stuff. Finally you got your diploma. The emphasis was very much on drawing and painting from the model and the two year course was much more specialised than the present system.
And what about results? Did this system act as an impediment to future prospects? Did it impose too tight a constraint on development? It is easy to be sardonic about it’s seeming absurdities: suffice it to say that some very good painting came out of it and perhaps this exhibition will provide some answers to these questions as well as enjoyment. At least three of the artists in the group have achieved considerable reputations and distinction with their work; all have extended their horizons in unexpected directions.