There are all sorts of ways of adding to your knowledge about the creative arts and enhancing your understanding of the world around you.
You can’t be too much of a cultural sponge, keep an open and receptive mind and you’ll be surprised at the number of connections you make, new enthusiasms you forge and fresh ways of knowing what it is to be a human being.
You are studying about 25 minutes away from one of the greatest and most culturally rich (and diverse) cities on the planet – London. Go and explore! But wherever you are there are things to look at, read, listen to. Never been to the theatre? Try it. Never been to Cambridge, Oxford, Stevenage? Go and see for yourself!
If you’re a Music student, then try a few art galleries. Fine Art student? Go to a classical concert. Design student? Watch a French ‘nouvelle vague’ movie from the ‘50s.
The list of places you can gain inspiration from is pretty long. There are plenty of listings available, buy a Saturday or Sunday paper, or get them online or on your phone.
- Art Galleries – private or public they’re mostly free in the UK. Food for the soul, and often a challenge to your preconceptions
- Museums – they cover practically every subject under the sun, again most are free
- Retail (shops) – Yes shops! They are a great place to look at things, touch them, walk round them. Design student? Need to test out the latest Apple gadget but can’t afford one? Go to an Apple Store, and play. Fashion student – go feel the material… try it on.
- Cinemas – watch stuff, this goes for TV too. OK, Hollyoaks may not stretch you too far, but there’s plenty that can.
- Theatre – are you an SFX student who only thinks that the latest ‘Avatar’ lookalike is where it’s at? Try the theatre…you’ll be amazed
- Concert Halls – mostly listen to your iPod? So that’ll be a compressed Mp3 file. Go hear the real thing
- Architecture, environment – by this we mean the stuff around you. Look at buildings. Look at the streets you walk around, the countryside. Look at signs, logos, graffiti, window displays, posters. Small tip, ‘look up!’ – most of us trawl along at eye level and we’re missing so much.
Take your student ID with you. This might get you in at a discounted rate or free. Take a notebook and something to write/draw with and a digital camera, if you have one. You will need to make notes about the venue, the works and the way the works are presented – sketches of the exhibition layout(s) can be useful too. You will not remember every detail. If you’ve a smartphone that takes voice memos, use that if it suits you.
By the way, check if you can use a camera. This is allowed more often than you’d expect in museums and galleries, usually if you don’t use flash. But ask, and don’t try and sneak a photo when pretending to use your phone. On the other hand many retail stores will pounce on you if you start snapping away (they suspect industrial espionage). A simple polite question will save a whole load of bother.
Freebies & catalogues
Always collect any free handout, guide, catalogue, etc. In art galleries make a note of prices if it is a dealer show (N.B. dealers are required by law to display the prices of works in exhibitions, and if they are not displayed they will have a list of them for which you may need to ask). If you think that the show or exhibition may be significant for you either now or later on in the course, splash out on the catalogue if there is one – if it is a major show they are often cheaper while the show is on. Or try Amazon or similar. The LRC tries to get many catalogues, but tiny galleries or museums outside major cities? Not usually.