The reason why I knew I had to study art at UCL and nowhere else, was because of its proximity to all the major London galleries and museums, and the fact that the university exploits this to the full. Today in Material Studies class, we actually got to have lectures inside the National Gallery! How cool is that!? We observed medieval paintings and explored the technique of egg tempera and oil on wood. We also saw “The Arnolfini Portrait”, which made me and Jia’s hearts skip a beat. There is nothing more stimulating than having lectures in front of the actual paintings in question – although I am gonna bring an old peoples’ foldable chair next time, because standing for two hours was tiring!
We were to meet outside the National Gallery at 10 am, however I decided to arrive extra early so I could sit on the stairs of Trafalgar Square like all Londoners do, and say good morning to Lord Nelson and Big Ben. I forgot, however, that arriving early also meant getting caught up in the early morning London rush hour. Sweaty and exhausted I came out of Charing Cross tube station. Trafalgar Square was quiet in the early hours, with the exception of a man standing on a pedestal (the Plinth?) with a guitar singing and screaming and all in all having too much confidence in his own musical skills. His friend gave me a free CD which I am not going to listen to. It is called “Oxygen Thief – “Oh look, I’m on the Plinth”.
This week has been – and will be – filled with gallery visits. I went to the Tate Britain yesterday to do some research for my first upcoming masterpiece of an essay due on November 20th. Lessons have barely started, and we are already to compare, analyze and write a critical review of two current London exhibitions, and “think critically about the definition and the nature of the subject matter that the curators have selected”. A pretty advanced assignment, but then again UCL is completely sadistic, enjoying giving students tasks they were not expected to be given until well into their second year. At least I’m not doing Civil Engineering like Tarek. My first assignment is not to design a rotating billboard poster that stops and turns every so-and-so second. Thank god.
Otherwise, I’m still trying to adapt to this new way of studying and thinking. I get so frustrated, because I feel as if we are doing everything at once. Instead of focusing on one period and style at a time, we are doing Graeco-Roman art in the foundation course, discussing modern paintings in the core course, analyzing medieval paintings in the material studies course – plus that I am doing research on JMW Turner and northern and Italian Renaissance art for upcoming two essays. Friends tell me that I am a slight control freak – and that is completely true. I hate not having structure, as it makes me feel helpless and detached. I feel as if my reading has no purpose or continuity, because I am reading up on so many different things at once. I spend so much time thinking about how I am going to organize my studies, that I end up not studying at all. I start reading one book, and then fifteen minutes later I change my mind and figure that I should rather read another book, and then fifteen minutes later I decide I should rather be working on my essay. I can’t continue like this anymore. I need structure and the ability to focus on ONE thing at a time! Today I sat down and wrote down a serious study timetable. Certain days I will only read for certain classes, and focus entirely on that one subject I am reading about. I am excited to see if it works.
Oh, and in the middle of all the partying and studying, I have completely forgotten all the societies I was supposed to sign up for! UCL has got tons of societies and after school activities. I am not able to find the Photography society anywhere, but I am joining the Nordic Society where we will watch Northern European movies and dress up as vikings. I missed the welcome dinner last week, but will try dragging myself to 17 Gordon Sq on Thursday where we will be watching Fucking Åmål – although it is going to completely mess up my carefully planned study schedule! I don’t remember how and why, but for some reason Bobby and I agreed to that if he came with me to the Nordic Society, I would pretend to be half Malaysian and infiltrate the Malaysian society.
Ok, now I will go back to my essay on “With reference to works in London collections, discuss some of the ways in which northern and Italian Renaissance art are enganged with different notions of the “real” “. I am actually really enjoying the research progress, as I am nuts about Renaissance art.