I recently spoke with a dear friend I haven’t been in touch with for a very long time, to impart the sad news that our old art tutor, Ron Julier, had died. I met Kaff Steggall at Trowbridge College when I was 16 – we were both taking the same art course (a brand new course, an 'experiment' of sorts) and soon became the best of friends due to our highly compatible and exquisite taste in most forms of art; especially music and humour.
Kaff Steggall (centre) with Paul Smith to the right and Richard Hughes
Ex-students of Ron’s are filling the pages of a sketchbook in his honour - as a tribute. Sketchbooks were important to him and he encouraged us to fill as many as possible with new ideas. ‘Catching the idea’ was paramount to him; to notice them and to nourish their potential into being. He taught me that ideas are purely Creative Potentials. They exist. Potentially.
Ron was a short Welshman who mercilessly critiqued everyone’s work, giving rise to my ‘famous’ indignant catchphrase, “Well I like it!” But I wanted him to like it, really. He could be quite harsh when he didn’t – I left my tutorial in tears on more than one occasion (and I wasn’t the only one). If he left the room for any period of time and found anyone out of their seats on his return, he would appear in the doorway and half shout/half sing in high-pitched Welsh accent, mug of tea in hand, “Get back on yer ‘edds!”.
I loved being at Art College; every day doing something I enjoyed (except Art History). Life is rather like the giant white sheets of paper that Ron made us tape the whole classroom floor with on the first day, giving us paints and demanding that we all, “Go wild!”. I have never forgotten that and have, ever since, taken it to heart. There is so much to explore, see, feel, do and experience in a lifetime and it takes courage to make a mark on that page... to “Get back on our heads” and make these ideas manifest.
So here it is, from me... one last sketchbook page for Ron.