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Michael (Mick) Ward
First written 25 06 07 ~ modified 06 12 08

Keith Elliott’s recall of a stumbling Margaret Drabble prompted me, I guess not so much schadenfreude, embarrassment or disappointment, but as a reminder that all “celebrities” are only human. (My mum used to say, “Do you think the Queen wipes her bottom on velvet?”).
Since then the web site is revealing things I didn’t know I wanted to know….

Pointers to some of my memories... (2000 words below)

Jacqueline Du Pré… her mistake/F and F (often Figure and Ground in …)/owe much to Corsham though …spoiled/My move to BAA and Ellis philosophy/symmetry with fossils ...Medieval Kiln/ethos was a bit(?) prescriptive/kit under the arches “Twinkle...”/Henry demo litho/Russty screen of 2x1… organdie, Cascamite/Beechfield, Marmite at 4 (Worst Marge..)/pink-lit hours pass by - Kennedy shot/Larry Rivers lectures/upstairs in Bath, draw one Trajan O/Howard… explodes 100 coke../Movement Theme/ Wangor…“painted suns”/Joe Hope sharp suit ... stripes/… “Adrian” taught us/Rosemary Land Rover/sitting on a Stanley,…

Precept, Prescriptive?
I was once invited inside the Court to hear Jacqueline Du Pré in a duet. For showing an interest in music, or for just being older? I don't know. I think this must have been about the time she became really famous for her definitive Elgar Cello Concerto. The duo fluffed their beginning and had to start again. Great teaching: a teacher making mistakes may often endear the student.
I never quite got to give the command “look at what's between the legs”, though like every art teacher I guess, I yawned out for years the old F and F (often Figure and Ground from other colleges) though I developed my own mantra too, didn't you? Did I say anything that students remember as useful? Precept was a "Rosemary" word and until I found a dictionary connection with Prescriptive I thought she meant lead the way, and don't ask a student to do things you wouldn't do yourself. I certainly tried to design a course to lead students into experiences that were course specific, but tried to leave it open-ended. In other words divergent minds would usually score.
I owe much to Corsham, though sometimes I wonder if it somehow had spoiled a slow innocent development. It might have suffered sometimes from being staffed by those who had been earlier students there but perhaps had little else to offer life. Via many lighter remarks on the web site I am getting some feeling that it must not have been the same place after 1968 and when the Ellis ethos waned, though Derek Pope would have been only one generation removed. Since then I have met those taught by those taught by, ad infinitum back to the Bauhaus: dilution. I dislike “My teacher used to say..” rather than “I believe ...” OK, they probably did the right things anyway.

Why was I there?
I was 29. I had hung my dark suit in the wardrobe, stopped commuting to London in its smog, (its last) said goodbye to luncheon vouchers and a promise of endless business lunches in favour of (my own word then) my “Lifestyle”. I had cycled 26 miles daily to work since 1951, until my “promotion”. (I was to do that again).
I applied to BAA, missing the start of 62 by a week so. Clifford made me wait a year. I could see his point: frying pan, fire.
The company also thought, hoped perhaps I might have changed my mind too. I carried on, touring the branches as managerial material, spending time in companies, colleges and stores. “The Organisation  Man“. Education seemed to be more worthwhile. Worthy I might say now with cynicism that often partners wisdom.
Sept 63. A New Life. I felt my first one was Over and thought myself as “old”. At 29!
I had 1 and 8/9 children and now dropped to a teacher’s grant, though this was OK unless major domestic items were to fail .I applied for Supplementary Benefit in the hols and was told I already had more than many locals earned!
My dad’s health had packed up; mum , with little education, was even having to earn for the first time in 45 years. That was the age I came from.
Once at Corsham, Rosemary sometimes thought I would appreciate privileges (I did not-they embarrassed my left wing indoctrination) “You’d like to take the Landrover back to base, wouldn’t you?” (not really, cars are necessary evils) “Press the button” said Derek Pope, watching.  Luckily.
In those days the Land Rover starter button was like a short giant roofing nail, (clout nail) on a casting (made of charcoal?) I pressed : it broke off.
Still, Rosemary was impressive and thorough : she chose each of us a painting she felt we would want to focus on when we passed though the Ashmolean’s door. She was right though studying the Suffragettes - no thank you! I was a textile designer so it followed that I would be put into Painting and Photography. Graphics must have been there somewhere as we did a project on the “Cool Greenhouse” and later I worked with Jeremy Rees to proclaim an Edward Lucie Smith visit.
Living at our new semi in Melksham, I only seemed to know students outside our group from rare encounters. Peers did the occasional baby-sit and we had a demure party or two.
Same age as tutors or even older, I found myself explaining to one tutor (name? I can't be sure.. Peter?) how he contributed to our total programme. He introduced Symmetry with fossils from the new Lacock bypass. Later he found a Medieval Kiln nearby. I got up at dawn (in June too) as Group Photographer, to use low lighting to show the contours.
I was always aware the Corsham ethos was a bit (?) prescriptive, a precursor of “packages” and “credits”. Bruce “Sam” Anderton, who like me was married, rode a bike too and he and his wife rode in a time trial I organised near Lacock Abbey. Sam was an aesthete who hummed Shostakovich melodies. He could not stand it and transferred to Newton St Loe after one year. I feel sorry for those who did not see it through and I feel a bond with “our club”. But where are they? I have snapshot faces of many though I hardly knew them. There is much to be said for being on site 24/24, often lost again with today's low or non-existent grants.
Like it or not, the Ellises had vision and worked hard. I wish I could say the same about places before or since, where playing politics often seemed to dominate. I’d write a novel if the subject were not so depressing. Lodge and Sharpe, have no fear.
But, R and C. E. (either or both - did one lead the other, or were they twin souls we used to ask?) maintained, “expression” was for “the rest of your life”. That was good enough for me, but I tried to maintain my integrity. This tended to result more in reportage than in expressive work. I now feel that it was restrictive but they had probably had enough of the pendulum's swing to Abstract Expressionism and its temptation to excuse rigour. But I'm getting heavy.
Who remembers queuing up for kit “served by Bernard "under the arches?” If so, do you remember the graffiti that began “Twinkle...” and ended with “....expectum”?
Oh no, it’s my own censorship! What do you think it is? A script for “I'm Sorry I Hav.....”

Ahead of time
Art always seems way ahead of public acceptance and though I watch its popular progress I have broadened my interests since unwillingly retiring early due to educational politics in 91. Probably my best ever move. Though I am almost non productive in paint, unlike I thought I would be, I read more, write, and until I quit “serious” cycling in 1980 with a trip to Baltimore and “serious” running in 2000, (apart from London Mara in 2005) life only seems to get richer and richer here in a microcosm in the Welsh Marches. I now go to Life Drawing and do commissions but tend to stay out of local stuff. I left Corsham feeling ahead of the game. Movement was one of the Corsham themes which seemed to be becoming universally important. I played with mobile/ Op. A lecturer, quite wrongly I think, put me off that with “So what? Op's a dead end" but what I learned is often there now hidden in conceptual pieces. I now think that comment is equivalent of the students who would come up to me and say “We did colour in Foundation !” I have since spent time with Sydney Harry, whose name is on the staff list, a lovely man, seemingly totally unconcerned for "Art" but Google him, adding Bradford. I just have. He advised Bridget Riley too, which is not mentioned.
I have enjoyed much of my teaching. I have few grey hairs. A peer, Tres Wiggins, mistaking my avoidance of confrontation for patience, and herself frustrated with me, burst “Michael you are SO reasonable !”. Observer, me, much of the time.
I later watched “The Prisoner”, visited Portmeirion (W. Clough E?), have and walked up nearby Cnicht several times - even raced up once! I mention this, apropos of nothing really, except the estates there, like saga have that spooky romantic Corsham vibes. I got into a UK show The Player Biennale (more conceptual), and found that so had several Corshamites too! (John Eaves was one), about 1/3 including the winner were Corsham "trained?" too. I became worried about a Group brain..scary .. …I tried to be less sophisticated.
But Corsham was so romantic.

Snapshot… dreams …
every time (archway framed)  leaves turn brown against October blue, I smell again that new life's early days, brown leaves rustle; Henry wheels his practiced demo litho out, John Vince, wields a scalpel, Screen Prince, fresh from the sharp end: Trade, gives us lowdowns; I cycle home, or go by Ford van, to wife and babies. Was I missing out on hoedowns?
Stephen wheels his bike (heavy, trusty, but a little Russty) deftly hammers panel pins, makes a screen of 2x1 against a wall, cotton organdie, Cascamite.
I bike to Beechfield, at 4 it's Marmite (Worst Marge ever, spread on curling bread).
Tea under fanlight, then to Richard, Ewan Wannop was it? pink-lit hours pass me by -Kennedy shot- so tragic? Watch that door! - 20c (forever 68) watch the print come up, it’s Magic! ; later, for a lens, I cut an ox's eye, not quite Bunuel, picture of Carol, chequered box (still in the shed, stores paint) ; old Barn films on Friday nights? Plaisir pur, French for free, it’s Art so don’t feel guilt!
Larry Rivers? Jim Dine? Hamilton? I think, plus others USA, talk and display, we feel we could jump the Pond); one summer, on Saturdays, we sit from 10 till lunch, above the leaves upstairs in Bath, hunched, draw one Trajan O, just one, talk Baskerville, mechanical Bodoni, faces old and new. I ride a local 25 (CTT which see) Whit Monday, ask for an early start, get to college just in time for 10, art comes first then - Rosemary, somehow she knew, had already warned me about ..well... she was a people watcher.. someone asks if there were spies? But I learned to care more - colour, tone, type, line all the stuff, Choose, be precise, not arbitrary: poster for Edward Lucie Smith's visit, honesty never bluff, rigour and Drawing: nude Figure rigour (though Howard enters, did he hoping for vigour? explodes 100 coke cans around the beautiful red-haired model’s feet, and then he buggers off).
Dyrham Park: chequered floor, Vermeer; Monks Park: I prance the floor, elf-like for the tall dancer - what was his name? Russel..? Lovely man, play my part. Art is Life Art is Art, the whole world moved, leaves fluttered, lime keys twizzling, with all those girls I (mostly) controlled my heart; Wangor, who “painted suns” sees my growing collage, takes my seat, he shifts a piece, I shift a piece, he shifts: universality in art, silent (but I'm still as garrulous as ever). Joe Hope in his sharp suit, a Little Morris Louis? I wrote a (forgotten ) book on design, not like Norman Potter's classic, getting a nice letter back from Robyn Denny with permission to use one of his “kites”. I later visited Denmark. Seeing the doors, had he been too, I wondered?
But now, back to 1963, Term 1, baby, our new baby : a name, com’on? “Call him… “Adrian”, (Heath) he taught us today", next to where Painters played… ISB? (Not “Be Glad …”) I think perhaps another. Maybe someday I'll hear it again?
Aaron, when he got to two, he asked, “can we go to the neearks?” (strut around the Park)
“Michael has son ..Adr-a-i-n” (notice at Monks Park). The writer I think was a girl, beautiful (that was no help as a kid, a hindrance, she confessed to me, I finish with her mishap) curly brunette with a dimple, often in jeans and bare feet as I recall. Her name? was it Barbara?..Carr – names bleach out (unlike Back to the Future) while faces, figures, presences, still lie in the fixer tray of the brain, waiting to be turned over and washed.

Why these words?
Well the reason they are here at all..... I was telling someone about Rosemary; how, as a family, miles from Corsham, one day we were driving our Ford van up a woodland track. We met a Landrover.
”Let them pull over, they won’t slip - it’s probably Rosemary“ I quipped.
And of course it was…. and I would have dreams afterwards……still do…She haunts me still.
We now have Broadband. I looked Her up and there She was, bending down, still iconic, sifting, as though among corpses of birds. Sifting, like I am now..
Shall I go to this reunion? (this written in June 2007 while writing my autobiography, getting Broadband and casually researching Rosemary). Will it be better not to? Who will care, will my life be enriched?
I did not go: I would have, and one day hope to, when there is more interest from my peers. Our year from my Grammar School, now also defunct, was one that went solo. We/they meet every year and endures, while the "Parent" has deceased and become guests.
Not everyone wants to remember, it seems. It is good that some bother to write, complaining. Many are still too busy with the present. Can't argue with that!
As I finish typing this (June 2007) I hear Ricky Gervais and his philosophy on Desert Island Discs. It sort of matches mine. Though my 8 discs would be eclectic but very different. For luxury I would ask to take Kirsty for company (if my wife couldn't come, of course). I parted amicably from my first, and this one, Barbara, is younger than my BAA peers.

More memories will flap in to roost, no doubt …… and there's so much more on the website.. I keep on dipping...
Oh? the curly brunette? Another Barbara. She sat on a Stanley knife in the Monk's Park bus. I hope it didn’t leave a scar, (Miss Carr?)

Some people I'd like to meet again: John Haward, John Murphy, Carol Jefferies, Judy Pallister
Mick Ward
can be contacted via the site email.

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by Roger Shapley 59-63
Christine Matson & Sheila Pearce 64-67