The Beginning of the End

Today was the last full day that I’ll spend in Brighton.

It was an interesting and rather appropriate farewell to the experience. I still don’t feel ready to leave this life behind me. I know that I have an amazing adventure to look forward to over the next month, but leaving Brighton signifies the end of such opportunities. I have been so grateful for this proximity to Europe and I believe I have made the most of it. It’s just hard to think about the fact that I won’t return to brighton. I have to return to Real Life, a life where I can’t afford to jet off to France because it’s not a couple hours and a few quid away. I know I will be back to Europe, but it will never be like this again.

I started my day with my first, only, and last critique at the University of Brighton. The critique was for my studio elective class, The Artistic Narrative. It’s the class for which I’ve been keeping a sketchbook of my adventures. I woke up early so I could hit a corner store and make some photocopies of the sketches. I wanted more than one person to be able to look at them at a time.

The first difference between a Brighton critique and a KCAI critique is that at Brighton, the first hour is spent setting up. In Kansas City, regardless of how early the crit begins, your work had better be on the wall and ready to go. If not, you were selfishly taking time away from other people who had worked hard and wanted some constructive feedback. The result of this is that I showed up, no one was ready, and then had an hour to kill before things actually got started.

This worked out for the best. I was able to hit the computer lab, print out my essay, and turn it in. I also sorted out the problems I’d been having with my Eurail pass. the Eurail people are amazingly easy to work with, especially considering everything I’ve been putting up with this trip. It’s such a relief.

When critique finally did begin, I quickly learned the other difference between critiques at Brighton and at KCAI. Here’s how I feel about things back at home: it is a slap in the face if no one offers any constructive criticism. When an artist has worked hard, it is the responsibility of his or her classmates to take the time to seriously consider the work before them and offer thoughtful, intelligent feedback. Nobody is perfect. We all have things we need to be working on. it’s not an insult, it’s not personal. When someone takes the time and effort to participate in your creative process, it’s a compliment.

Not so in Brighton, as I quickly learned. What they call “critique” is what we call in preschool “show and tell.” Any critical feedback is met defensively by the entire group. I even played it close to the chest when this happened! I had complimented the first artist on his work, noted where I thought it could be pushed further, and followed this up with another compliment. Oh, the backlash!

I wonder how this effects the quality of education over a four-year period.

When the critique finally ended, I had the rest of the afternoon before me. I had one thing that I needed to do: see the Royal Pavilion. I can defend the fact that I haven’t seen it yet. I was originally planning to see it with my sister, then my migraine happened. Then, I was going to wait to see it with my parents… but they decided not to come to Brighton. The Pavilion, although unique and relatively iconic, is Brighton’s only real attraction.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I see it almost daily from the exterior. I walk through the Pavilion grounds almost every time I go into town. The exterior is in a Northern Indian fashion. The interior was a mystry to me. I knew only that it had been built by George IV, and then sold by Queen Victoria who intensely disliked it.

I got to pay the “Brighton Resident” admission price, on my last day as a resident of Brighton. That was rather sweet. No photography was allowed throughout the entire building, but a free audioguide was provided.

Walking into the pavilion is like walking into a different world. The exterior is very Indian, but the interior is Chinese. It is the first (only?) building in England to have the Chinese theme throughout the entire building, but each room was still amazingly unique. George IV didn’t get along with his father. He spent most of his time away, in Brighton, and eventually built the pavilion as a sort of bachelor’s pleasure palace. George IV loved eating, drinking, and entertaining. The pavilion was the set for these activities.

It’s gaudy, to be sure, but still strangely elegant. The first two rooms were odd, to be sure, but when you got to the third room you realized how extraordinary the building is. This was the banquet hall. From the huge domed ceiling hangs the most magnificent chandelier of all time. An enormous dragon holds the light fixture of more than 15,000 crystals. A bunch of smaller dragons breathe out lotus-shaped lamps. Gaudy, yes. Fabulous… beyond words. Here are some photos I found on the internet. Yes, I followed the rules about not taking any myself. Sadly.

The rest of the tour was just as strange and interesting. The life of George IV sounds rather sad. By the end of his life, he was cripplingly obese. His estranged wife only heard of their daughter’s death through a stranger. It was all very odd. The pavilion itself has a rather odd history. It was used as an Indian hospital during WWI. When Victoria sold it to Brighton, she stripped the interior. Many of the original decorations are now used in Buckinghham palace, but she had no where to put most of it so it was returned when the pavilion was opened to the public as a historical site.

The have a tea room on the second level terrace, where I stopped for a bit. For lunch I had what may be my last cream tea, my last scone with clotted cream. It was a lovely view of the pavilion garden grounds, and the most beautiful and sunny day yet.

I took my time coming home. It was, after all, my last chance to meander through the Lanes. There’s still not so much to see, but I remember what it was like when I first arrived in Brighton. That was the only place I knew to go. It’s still a colorful place to people watch and window shop. And like I said, the weather was beautiful.

I had a little dinner before meeting up with some girls from my studio class. Everyone is very busy and stressed right now from that essay. I finished it early because I had no choice, but everyone else is handing it in on the 9th and so just now panicking about it. It was a great night, though. I wish I’d been able to spend more time with my classmates. They’re so beautiful and lovely. I can’t get over how supportive everyone is here of one another. It was also the night that a drawing club meets at the pub we went to, and when they gave us all paper some serious drawing ensued. I drew Hannah a portrait as a token of my affection.

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I wasn’t anticipating a late night. Everyone is very busy, and I’m moving tomorrow. Time flies when you’re having fun, though, and we did have a grand old time. It was nearly midnight by the time we headed home. I’m not worried about getting out the door tomorrow. I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. I am, however, quite sad that I missed Alec and Alice. It’s a work night for them, so they were both in bed by the time I got back. They’ll certainly be gone for work by the time I wake up. They leave really early in the morning. It really makes me sad that I didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to them. I found a really kind note from them under my bedroom door, along with a Brighton magnet.

I’ll leave them a note tomorrow, but it still feels strange. I’ve been living with them since January. I’m going to miss them. I’ll probably send them some packages. I wonder if they would like to be facebook friends.

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3 thoughts on “The Beginning of the End

  1. Thoughts:

    1. Our American Puritan work ethic is way over rated, says your Tatie who is burnt the hell out from working 55 hr weeks since August. Take notes from the Brits and relax a little.

    2. I’m impressed with your maturity wanting constructive criticism. You’ll go far.

    3. Goodbyes are so sad.

    4. I want that chandelier.

    5. You’ll never regret that last night out with your friends.

    6. I’m guessing Alex and Alice have an open invitation to come to Kansas City. You’ll have to peek in and whisper a goodbye.

  2. I’m smiling…just love your blog. That Tatie writes some interesting, fun, and wise comments, doesn’t she.

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