In the mid 1970’s Art courses were either Degree and Vocational in nature. Officially there was supposed to be little difference between the two, in practice Degree courses were the better funded and the most sought after. A prerequisite to either of these was the Art Foundation course. This was a general art course that was designed to give an overview of all aspects of art and help the student to decide in which area to specialise. Most Foundations were a year long, which didn’t give much time to experience all that art had to offer before the student had to make a decision and start the application process for their chosen specialism. Two year Foundation courses however, proved too long when combined with the three year degree/vocational course.
I threw myself into the course with much enthusiasm. However, since I had decided that I wanted to study Graphic Design, it may be that I didn’t get sufficiently involved with all the other aspects that the course had to offer. None the less, I made full use of the photography labs and the new expensive black and white video camera’s that the college had purchased.
My student ‘digs’ were in Dorset Gardens was a quarter of a mile up the road from the Polytechnic’s main Grand Parade site. The landlady was pleasant and well meaning, but the food and the overall standard of accommodation left something to be desired. My parents were still living and working in Kenya, but had made the decision that they would retire in the UK and so had bought a flat in Caister’s Close in Hove. So at some point in the year I moved into the flat. It was a bit further out from Poly, but I felt more independent and self contained.
In September 1977 I met Juliette Hulme at a party in Reigate organised by her next door neighbour, an old school friend of mine called Mike Mamalis. Mike and Andy Rose had not only been friends at school, but lived in the same town. Unfortunately for both Andy and myself, Juliette had dated Andy earlier in the year and had finished the relationship a few months before. My relationship with Andy was robust enough to cope with any awkwardness this might cause, Juliette being the second of Andy’s girlfriends that I had ‘pinched’ from him, the first being Diana at school.
My relationship with Juliette deepened very quickly and pretty soon I was spending every weekend and every available moment with her. She had just started a teacher training course at the Roehampton Institute in Putney, London. This greatly influenced the decisions that I had to make as to which Art College I was going to apply for, and subsequently I put in applications for all the main London Degree courses, including Ravensbourne which was where Jess later studied after she did her Foundation in Brighton.
To my frustration, I wasn’t able to get on a Degree course, but was accepted on the Graphic Design Vocational Course at Eastbourne College of Art and Design. I couldn’t help feeling it was going to be second best.