|In the Dark
One of the first things we had to learn in Graphics was photography because it played such an important part in the course, not just taking pictures but also process work for various printing methods, bearing in mind that we had to print just about everything that we designed. Photography was taught in the coach house at Beechfield, the darkrooms just to the left of the Pottery studio and the studio on the other side of the courtyard. Our tutor in the Pre-Dip was a rather nice fellow called Richard Morling. Somehow the girls didn’t seem so keen on him because they said he couldn’t keep his hands to himself in the darkroom! There were two girls particularly that complained, Wendy McLerie a nice girl who was only with us in the Pre-Dip and her friend Vicky Hornby, a very pleasant local girl from Calne. Vicky lived at home and her dad used to bring her in in the mornings on his way to work in Bath. She was rather a pretty little thing, cheerful and with freckles. I used to tease her in the darkroom by following Richard’s example and stroking her behind! I liked to hear her squeal, “Oooooh! Stephen, you are awful, and you just keep your hands to yourself!” That sort of thing would be considered most improper these days, what with Wimmins’ Lib and all that, but times have changed!
The part of the darkroom where we did the printing and developing was entered through a double set of doors and there was a bell for those who wanted to come in. You had to ring the bell before entering and if anyone happened to be on his way out at the same time he had to shout. This system wasn’t foolproof and there were sometimes accidents when both doors were opened at the same time and the light flooded in and fogged people's pictures.
Ewan Wannop was a large and friendly fellow with a big bushy beard whose job it was to see to the daily running of the photographic department. Ewan kept everything meticulously tidy and ensured that fresh developer was always mixed and ready for use whenever there were classes. He was also in charge of the equipment store and kept track in a ledger of who was borrowing cameras, tripods and things. I remember that people could often tell which tripod I had been using last because I usually overtightened the screws so that the girls sometimes had to call upon Ewan (or me when they had discovered who the culprit was) to loosen them again!
Ewan also took care of the equipment in the film (cinematographic) department which he kept spick-and-span and in perfect working order at all times and made sure that everyone knew how to roll up electrical cables without getting kinks in them.
When you came into the photographic darkroom through those not-quite-foolproof doors there was a row of five enlargers on a long shelf on the left-hand wall. One Monday morning when Ewan was preparing the darkroom for a batch of students he discovered a roll of developed negatives behind one of the enlargers. Someone had been moonlighting at the weekend. And not just ordinary moonlighting because the negatives in question were some very explicit nude photographs of that someone’s girlfriend! Ewan couldn’t resist the temptation and made big glossy prints from the negatives and kept them in a folder which he showed to a select few - of whom I was one! The photographs were in fact very expertly taken and the moonlighter had obviously gone to considerable lengths to conceal the identity of his buxom girlfriend, so we could never make a positive identification of her, although we could make a reasonable guess as to who it might have been. And of course the moonlighter never came to reclaim his roll of film because that would have let the cat out of the bag completely!
Later on in the course we were taught by a Swiss girl, Barbara Luthy. I can’t remember a lot about the photographic side of things but a good deal more about Barbara. She was not much older than we were and didn’t know a lot of English when she first arrived. I think she came to Corsham through Hans-Jörg Mayer the typography fellow, at any rate they used to go prattling on together in Schweizerdeutsch, which I understood a bit through my German and Flemish. Peter Juerges and I sometimes had to translate for Barbara when she got into difficulties with her English. Pete’s dad was German and he spoke the lingo a bit better than I did. Barbara was very nice, five-foot-nothing and cheerful to match, not exactly pretty but quite attractive all the same. Once she invited several of us home to her digs at the Court. She lived in an upstairs room by the swimming pool. Barbara wanted to teach us the whole truth about spaghetti, how to cook it and eat it without making a mess! Spaghetti was eyed with a certain amount of suspicion in those days, a sort of foreign food that nobody was quite sure how to deal with. The trick, as Barbara taught us, was to use a spoon and a fork to keep the stuff under control. And it was very good spaghetti.