Gordon Ramsay is to Cooking: What Foz is to Illustration

So our last critique (i.e. ‘a crit’): This is going to be a LONG one, so people who are not Fernanda (or in the class) might as well skip it

The Setup:
Foz optimistically says in the morning as I run in 3 minutes late, guilt showing all over my face, that we ought to finish today’s crit by 2:30 at the latest…(of course it never happened, in fact it went on longer than usual for reasons I shall later embellish on).


Being even slightly late made me feel a bit sick in my stomach, but that could also be because I ran up two very long flights of stairs trying to neutralise my lateness. I’m always expecting him to shriek at me [when I imagine I’m late] so I got there exhausted and breathless to our studio just in the nick of time [so I thought at least, I don’t know if Foz did, I’m still kind-of worried]

The Studio:

Last year what was an immaculate studio with white walls and clear desks has been transformed by the hard work of Ed, Martyn and Onnalin to an absolute tip. I must add that all credit should go to Ed who seems to amass all kinds of rubbish from places I can only imagine.

Junk heap furniture to xeroxes piled high over three very large desks and some 300 odd paint tins or so, like an octopus Ed’s stuff has slowly seeped over the entire studio, scaring away any rivals for territory.

He also drips paint on the walls.

Our class is very indulgent of messiness, mostly because the previous year complained about us ‘dirtying’ their nice ‘clean’ space [what a bunch of thumbs up their….well never mind]. Anyway, we have had complaints both from the last year and this current year, but we revel in our bad reputation [or at least I do] but Ed still had to shift some of his stuff [never fear, I’m sure it will seep out again shortly].

Athier’s Minor Bollocking:

“So”, Foz said cheerfully, “We’ll be done by 2:30 and then we can have our seminar.”

“Uhm Foz could I have my crit like second? Cause I like have to go to Leeds at 12-12:30 or so”

Athier requested backslash demanded.

“Ooooookkaaay…sure…” replies Foz, “But why do you have to go to Leeds today?”

“Uhm, like uhm I just have to go” shrugs Athier.

“Ok,”

Foz agrees, (which lulls his victim into a false sense of security),

“But its not like Leeds is Mexico or Brazil, so why do you have to leave at 12? You could leave at 7 and still reach there in an hour”

Foz argues, very reasonably.

“Uhm like …uhm well I just have to go”

he said vaguely, which really meant,

“I’d rather just be a fucking parasite, milk the class for feedback and then leave without having to listen to their crits thus saving myself SO much time and energy.”

“Ok.” says Foz, with some finality.

“But I’d just like to say, honestly, I think that’s shit, but anyway lets just do your crit”

Athier looks somewhat sheepish and smiles weakly.

Side note: Now that I think about it, this irritates me hugely. Does this guy think that no one besides him has things to do? That we all love sitting for hours and hours in a crit?

Without fail, he WILL leave the moment HIS turn is up. There has rarely been a crit where the guy has stayed to the end and it really REALLY pisses me off. I would prefer it if he didn’t show up at all, rather than leech us for feedback and give ZERO in return, not even having the decency to stay and fucking listen.

Fucking jackass, thats it! I’m boycotting ever commenting on Athier’s stuff from this point on. I forgot to do it last week but hopefully in a month I’ll still remember what a blood sucker he is and refuse to participate.

Lisa’s Medium Bollocking:

Foz has this strange british trait of drinking during lunch.

So we all went off the the Princess Louise in a little troupe. I tried to drink a whiskey and coke but it just doesn’t feel right before 4 o clock.

Someone then suggested we buy a couple of packs of beer and drink during the crit. So thats what we did [but mostly the boys/men and Foz really did the drinking].

Then came Lisa, who started her crit with..

“Oh, I guess I shouldn’t have come after Onnalin cause my work is really shit”,

which wasn’t the best of opening lines.

She then had his long, rambling disclaimer, generally moaning and being wishy washy about her subject matter (superstition/feet first),

“What to do I don’t know what to do uhm I’m so stuck its so confusing tell me what to do blah blah blah..”

Foz finally snapped (it must have been the beer) and said

Just show us your work.”

Lisa: “No no I really want to explain what I’m doing to you guys.”

Foz: “Lisa, one of the worst things about your work, is your gob”

Lisa: “What do you mean?” she asks, confused.

Foz: “I mean the moment you open your mouth you sabotage your work. The minute you attack it yourself you leave yourself wide open

Onnalin pipes in and says

“Yeeeaah Lisa, you know, I mean your work is really good you have really bad self confidence”

“I think sometimes you purposely play on the sympathy card so you criticize your own work” adds Foz somewhat harshly.

Georgina: “Just do one small project at a time, for a week and don’t bother to think about where it’s going. I used to get really stuck with my project before.”

Foz: “Excellent! Georgina is my new assistant now”

“But you guys are not telling me what to do, I mean I’m really confused…” moans Lisa.

Me: “But Lisa how can we make decisions for you? I mean how can you expect the class to lead your practice?”

Lisa: “But like, I explained everything and you guys didn’t get it so it can’t be like good..” she whines

Anyway to cut through the crap, we basically made her cry after about 15 minutes of this.

Like piranhas we then moved on to attack Alex, the next weak link.

Alex’s MAJOR Bollocking

He had seemingly done no work the entire term, and showed us a couple of illustrator files of a tracing of chick from a porn mag on his laptop He’s doing something about hookers, no point in particular. I have no idea what he’s trying to say etc, he seems to have no opinion blah blah

So I say all of this shit. Then Foz says,

“Alex, I have to be honest and just say that if you continue like this you’re going to fail.”

Leaving that bombshell to linger slightly he goes on to say:

“I think the level of investigation in your work is BA level. After you left at the one day project without even finishing it, that just crossed a line for me. I wasn’t planning on saying anything about your work because I wanted to reflect the level of commitment you have on the course. If you have some problem tell me, if you want to quit I can write you a leaving letter. Why pay so many thousands of pounds? You might as well not bother doing the course”

Alex got defensive and angry, on one hand he kept bullshitting about how long his stuff took him, why he didn’t want to investigate further into the concept of prostitution (corporate whores, prostituting your integrity or just sex for money or just women who have a lot of sex for free & so on).

“Stop fucking bullshitting Alex. Say you didn’t do the work but don’t bullshit me” yells Foz

Alex: “I’m not bullshitting! But if you say I’m going to fail then like at least give me some pointers, tell me what you want me to do…”

Foz: “Its not even about critiquing your work anymore, its about your level of commitment to the course”

Alex: “Like I am committed these took 5 hours to do and I guess it doesn’t look it but it took time and saying my work is shit so what do you want me to do like if it’s shit ok fine thats your opinion.”

Me: “Honestly Alex, five hours or 10 hours a week is just not enough…”

Foz: “…I never said it was shit, my exact words were ‘I find the level of inquiry in your work to be BA level’, if its about challenging the aesthetic then fine we can do that but its about your commitment to actually doing the work.”


I’m pretty sure at some point Foz was pinching the top of his nose with two fingers purely out of frustration and also probably to keep his rage contained.

Martyn: “If you plan on not changing your work or not even listening to suggestions why are you even doing an MA?”

Onnalin: “Alex we’re not attacking you, we just trying to help you. If your not working and theres a problem just tell us. We do want to help you”

Foz: “…everyone has commitments, everyone has a life thats not the point.”

Oh man, it went on and on.. the worst thing was Alex arguing with everything and then contradicting himself. At some point he said he saw other peoples work and didn’t think they had progressed, so he didn’t understand why we were attacking him.

Chris gets the last of it all

After this it was a downward spiral for anyone who dared annoy Foz. The beer+Lisa+Alex had triggered off all his ‘irritation’ buttons and unfortunately Chris ignored all the warning signs. He showed up after lunch [he wasn’t there all morning] and had stuff on photocopy paper and began with

“I’m in this relationship where all we do is get wasted a lot so thats what my work is about…”

Which at that point its like waving a red flag to a bull.



Foz: “Other people might polite enough to point out things they like but personally I think its shit. If you’re bored of your old subject, its fine to change it and I’m all for having a good time on the course but don’t fucking get wasted in my class.”


It is my personal opinion that all the melodrama was extremely interesting and enjoyable and deserved this extended post (I think Martyn enjoyed it as well, Georgina and Onnalin felt guilty).


Apologies to anyone who read it and wasn’t in my class or was one of the bollocked people.

(I also think Athier deserved a bigger bollocking)

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29 thoughts on “Gordon Ramsay is to Cooking: What Foz is to Illustration

  1. ‘He also drips paint on the walls.’this made me laugh…Yes, twas the worst crit i have ever experienced and when i reflect on it i gasp and wince in horror, however, i must say it has really really helped and as foz sometimes says, good things are starting to happen. also, its been a good week for me.

  2. i could so identify with this post..my art class (my A levels) was just like this!there were always the few who’d just bullshit their way thru it (did i tell you about the girl who stuck wire jewellery in a loaf of bread? i still dont get it..after allthese years)and then get screwed over by our teacher..i wasnt particularly fond of him coz he was rude bastard but he gave good critshaving said that – crits were a fucking huge pain in the ass to stay back for..completely ruined fridays for me

  3. I enjoyed reading it. My experience in literary workshops has been similar (as a participant), but as a tutor I was never able to be as firm as Foz. I think he’s attitude is very cool. It’s making people think and work. There’s nothing worse than a lax tutor that lets anyone come up with whatever they want and make the rest wast their time.

  4. leo: the word is ‘supposed’chris: but he does man. it really bugged the previous 2nd yrs. yeah that was a good/bad/horrific crit depending on your perspective.just no more photocopies chris and stop chucking your stuff! Foz’s head might just explode.

  5. w2ire jewelry in bread: wow! but a guy made an entire bed out of bread and then ate particular pieces to create a human sizes ‘dent’. That was kindof impressive.

  6. haaaahahaaaaaa damn man!!!! i missed it, honestly i couldnt stop laughing exellent crit!!!!!!!! i dont have anything to say about all this but i can see alex just been an arrogant t…t. and yeah chris stop using shitty paper u goon!i hope foz doenst have high blood presure! i need him to be there.ive been eating too much i may back to the uk rolling like a ball.

  7. holy crap does this post ever bring back memories!The worst we had was the guy who spent a lot of time in his anatomy class and therefore at the morgue. He would make etchings from dragging a corpse’s nail across a prepared plate.I can’t begin to explain all that annoys me about it.

  8. and this is why, she said to herself wisely, i decided not to go beyond a tiny little bachelor’s degree. 🙂but your crits are great fun, only your= belongs to you and you’re = you are.sorry for being pedantic. 🙂

  9. Lolabola: what is that that annoys you about it? is it the noise that a nail makes along a plate. I love anatomy drawings thoughem: no no MA’s are fucking brilliant. and my blog gives you fair warning. [about typos]‘Beware’ it says. the ‘beware’ mainly being for the benefit of all the writers.

  10. leo`s right, don`t you want to forget about these classes if they are so painful, instead of writing them up in so much detail and then making us read them all so now even we hate this Alex character

  11. hey hey I gave all people fair warning about the length of the post.Secondly crits can either be tedious or great fun, I happen to think the last crit was the latter.Besides no one hates Alex or anyone for that matter. Its not personal its just a crit.

  12. no, it was not the sound of it, it was the pretention that he was saying something meaningful because they were the nails of a corpse (allegedly) when the result was just marks on a page that could have been made from anything.And why is it meaningful just because they are from a corpse?I too decided not to go on from the bachelor’s degree. Not because I didn’t love the insanity of crits but because it seemed the local art world was too full of this kind of thing.

  13. Lolabola: Yes I see what you mean. That is extremely annoying, but people like that just need to be taken down a peg or two. And besides as an illustrator such pretension is deeply derided [at least in my class/or at least I do] Its all about the visual not the process. unsane: what a pleasant surprise!nundun: I’m afraid you were not my target audience nor a hot Mexican fireball. Sorry.

  14. there’s something about a warning at the start which makes you actually read the bloody thing. i think i’ll refer to it as the “dont touch this button” or the “wet paint” syndrome.how else would you explain all these people – who didn’t ever go to your art class or are latin american fireballs – reading the entire post? surely not to read more of your tortuous prose eh? 😛

  15. well Leo never read it, he just skimmed, Chris & Fernanda are in my class, Ernesto knows fernanda, Nundum did’nt read it, I think Anon might be Bruna, but maybe the rest are all masochists.

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