Stories about my Life as an Artist over the Years-1

Courtney on the potter's wheel

I would like to begin with my student days; I was accepted to Teachers College in the UK to study History and Religious Education as my major and minor subjects.

I was prompted by my headmaster during my one and a half years as a student teacher to change to Art as my major; after showing some interest and a liking for art.

Unfortunately Art was not one of my Oxford and Cambridge examination passes; so the college could not accommodate my request to change subjects.

I asked if I could attend classes for three subjects instead of two for the first year; and it was agreed.

After less than 6 months the Art Department agreed I could change subjects, so I dropped History for Art.

In Barbados I came from a generation of potters and I had a natural ability for ceramics; I use to model birds from clay found along the riverbank running through our land.

The ceramic tutor expressed his wish that I should specialize in ceramics after the first and second years of the comprehensive course; but I elected to choose sculpture.

Our sculpture tutor was a female with a particular style, which I did not take a liking to; but she was a good teacher; unfortunately she graded the students’ work by the likeness to her style.

Having grasped the situation, I decided to prepare two samples for every practical assignment that was set, one for grading and one for me; after grading I destroyed her copy and kept mine for my final graduating exhibition.

When the time came for the final exhibition, my tutor decided I must produce the work she graded, as she had no proof that the work on exhibition was my own.

Courtney,s Art work
I was able to provide some proof, as some of my life studies was of a female student from our group; plus the college rules stipulated that you had to spend as mush as three times your tutorial time creating on your own.

The head of department and the principal over-ruled her decision and my exhibition was a success.

The Director of the local Museum was at the opening of the exhibition and offered me my first solo exhibition at the Herbert Art Gallery and Museum.

I left England and teaching in1969 and opened the Devonish Art Gallery in Barbados.