art creativity fine art graphic design inspiration southampton students work

A wonderful afternoon at Below Bar Studios

Yesterday I had one of the most interesting, fun afternoons in a long long time.

My lovely Louise took me down to Below Bar, the home of our School of Art and Design Studios to meet two of the course leaders who set up amazing work and social spaces for their students.

I absolutely loved it. A day later and I’m still buzzing.

It’s a whole different world down there and God I wished I was part of it.

First stop: The BA (Hons) Fine Art Studios. The lovely, sweet course leader Atsuhide gave as a little tour. Bright, big, colourful, vibrant rooms, the sun shining through the large windows, students working on their art, unique, beautiful artwork displayed everywhere, I was speechless and that says a lot!

Next stop the BA (Hons) Graphic Design base room. A social and work space for students. I didn’t know where to look first. What a truly beautiful, creative room. Great big tables decorated with students’ artwork, impressive constructions, table-tennis and Foosball tables, luxurious leather sofas and cosy, little hubs surrounded by wood frames made by the hands of one of the most interesting people I met in a long time, the course leader and Head of Subject Nick Long.

 

Nick is not only an incredibly talented and intelligent man who could even spell my name first time we ever met, I was seriously impressed, but he is the best story teller I met in real life and you know me, I love a good story.

We soon went off topic, always a sign of a good conversation, and ended up chatting about many different things including the old Southampton Arts School, which was next to the beach (yes, Southampton used to have a beach) back in 1850s and it looked like a scene from Pride And Prejudice, an impressive, imposing building surrounded by pine and cypress trees. Spa rooms were situated on the ground floor and the Arts School was on the first floor with his own private entrance. It was unfortunately knocked down in 1950s. Nick has done his research and got hold of photos and drawings he scrolled through whilst telling us all about it.

It instantly sparked my imagination and I was transferred to the 1850s, picturing people relaxing at the spa rooms whilst upstairs art students handcrafted surreal sculptures and colourful paintings.

I could listen to Nick talk all day. His voice, his accent, his lively, enthusiastic, natural story-telling, narrating style are truly captivating.

During our conversation I got the chance to meet Chris Bigg, another amazingly talented and sweet man who until I came home and googled him, I didn’t realise he has worked for some of the most famous record labels and artists as a graphic designer.

I don’t get starstruck and being famous doesn’t mean anything to me. But talent and creativity together with honesty, kindness and wicked sense of humour instantly makes me fall in love with humans on a spiritual level. It reminds me that there are some amazing people out there and I really needed that reminder lately.

Thank you Lou for an amazing afternoon. I fell in love with the place and the people.

I can’t wait to visit again. Today I feel truly blessed.

Namaste

Eleni

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