Art education in the 1960’s and 1970’s, health and safety and combing your hair.

I learned my trade as an artist in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. I completed what became known as a Foundation Course in Art & Design and this was followed by three years of studying graphic design, which I thoroughly enjoyed, then I was accepted for a further year of post graduate studies at Wimbledon School of Art in south west London.

In those halcyon days, in art colleges across the country, students enjoyed a full and rounded education in the arts. We were taught about the tools of the trade and how to use them. One memorable thing I discovered was how to sharpen a pencil ! This might sound rather banal but at the age of 17,  the powers that be,  thought we should master this very exacting skill. I went on to work as an illustrator and am indebted to my tutors for sharing their expertise in such an arcane practise. I won’t bore the reader with the full details, suffice to say that we used a scalpal for the proceedure and the outcome was invariably a long sharp point which was useful for achieving a particular crisp character of line ! For the last 40 years I have proudly sported a bunch of freshly sharpened pencils in the top pocket of my shirt – despite the fact that in common with many others I use a keyboard much more than a pointy pencil !

To cut a long story short, the other day, I was combing what’s left of my hair and upon completing the exercise I went to put my hand down and speared it on one of the sharpest of my current crop of pencils. The point broke off inside my thumb and despite a protracted illegal operation – that’s where its been for the last two weeks ! Today’s news is that a scab formed over the wound and as I had nothing better to do than explore said scab, I finally managed to pursuade the offending two millemetres of lead to exit my body !

The moral of this story is “if you’re pencil is sharp, you will be able to draw a crisp line – if you carry your pencil in your top pocket, that’s fine (maybe for 40 years) but be very careful when combing your hair – this can be fraught with peril !!

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator


  1. Natalie Gerber

    OH my gosh I just laughed so hard!

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