I was fortunate to attend a secondary school where art was taught and driven by two particularly enthusiastic teachers Gerry McConville and Nev Wakling. Looking back it is difficult to appreciate how a school could be so excellent in one subject and pretty dismal across many others. There were many examples of this drive, one being that every student had a sketch book and homework was marked diligently. Another was that students sat their art exams earlier than most other schools with a smaller group taking A level art in the 5th year of secondary education or when pupils were 16. Nev Wakling`s next appointment was as Head of the Art and Design Foundation Course at Blackpool and Fylde College, and he was instrumental in terms of developing all its Arts degree programmes which currently places it as one of the best Art Colleges in the U.K. I was to meet up with him in 1985 when I was a part time lecturer at the college.
During my secondary school days I was encouraged to draw from the landscape and I drew around the streets, factories, and semi-rural areas of Manchester. I also drew figures and portraits and I would spend hours copying the paintings of artists such as Rembrandt, Cezanne, and Picasso.
The standard of drawing across the school was very high and the work of other older pupils further up the school were an inspiration. One of these became a friend, he was John Humphreys who eventually progressed to ahead of me to the RA Schools and to work successfully in the TV and film industry. He is now a well respected sculptor.