When did you attend Bethany School?
I was a pupil at Bethany from 2005-2012
What are you doing now?
After Bethany I did a foundation at Central Saint Martin’s. I then went on to Chelsea College of Art. Instead of going to my graduation ceremony I opted to do a one-month CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) course, and I then spent a year teaching English. I went on to apply for a Master’s because outside of an institution I was finding it extremely difficult to find time to make work. I am currently going into the second year of my Master’s in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art and planning to start a PhD afterwards.
What is your favourite memory of life at Bethany?
Heady summer afternoons immersed in the Kent countryside and the smell of freshly cut grass.
Did you have a favourite teacher/subject?
My first was Mr MacSporran, my History teacher. Towards the end of my time Sixth Form, Mr Kilbride, who was my A level History teacher. Not only were they were both extraordinary teachers, but Mr Kilbride stuck by me even though I was a less-than-cooperative adolescent. In fact, I put my love of knowledge down to Mr Kilbride who struck my 17-year-old self as having the most extraordinary intellect. Another was my tutor throughout my time in Kendon, Mr Cullen, who made the mistake once of comparing me to Einstein, which went completely to my head. Finally, Mrs Kelly, one of my Art teachers, who really pushed me and helped me along, although I couldn’t have predicted when my artistic pursuits would eventually take me.
As for a favourite subject, I think it’s a toss up between Mathematics and History, both of which I didn’t mind occasionally pulling my finger out for, as both departments had some brilliantly inspiring teachers. I did enjoy Art, but never really found out what I could do with it until I discovered theory and philosophy a bit further down the line when I went to university.
How did your experiences at Bethany help you in your career?
It’s hard to pin point specific experiences but the freedoms afforded a pupil such as myself at a school such as Bethany probably made the biggest impact on me as a person, and as a result landed me in the position I currently find myself. The pace of learning was just about right and, when I took to a subject, the teachers were good-natured enough to indulge my over enthusiasm.
What advice would you give a Bethany pupil looking to work in the same field as you?
As with anything in life, work extraordinarily hard. At school, try to make a diverse portfolio that illustrates just how enthusiastic you are about your work.
Reach for the absolute best universities you can, if you want to go to the best in the country, do it! There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t get in if you display enough enthusiasm in your work. The work you make now will probably have zero influence on the work you make even a year down the line; all the schools want to see is that you are willing to work hard and experiment
Do not go to art school because you think it’ll be cooler than ‘normal’ university. If anything it’s just as hard if not a little bit harder because its nearly all self-directed.
Be reflective and self-critical. Nobody is going to be as enthusiastic about your work as you are, ergo you have to evaluate just where and how you are going to improve your work. On a similar note, grow a thick skin. People are going to try to cut you down, all you should do is take it as a compliment; they wouldn’t bother if you’re not good enough.
Wake up early, get into university, and immerse yourself in your subject. Find peers who are as enthusiastic as you are about ideas and talk to them about everything. Don’t waste too much time looking at other peoples work or partying too much. Finally, go to sleep early so that you can wake up before everybody else – it’ll increase your output!
What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
• Be humble.
• Stop torturing your teachers; they only want you to succeed.
• For that matter, stop wasting both your and your parents’ time and money and concentrate on your work – it’ll pay dividends in the future.
• Stop worrying about what people think of you.