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Work by John Mitchell
Drawing and Painting graduate John Mitchell's time at ECA allowed him the space to explore and evolve his practice without worrying about what was to come next. A Summer at Yale University lead John to question his practice, eventually moving away from painting and focussing on other mediums.

Since graduating, John taught at Reading University and has exhibited his work nationally and internationally.

Why did you choose to study at ECA? 

I chose to study at ECA to get away from my hometown of Glasgow. Plus, Scottish education grants were not available to study in England. 

Tell us about your time at ECA

I started my studies when I was 21, so I had a few years of experiencing life away from education, including living in St Ives, Cornwall for 18 months. When I hitch-hiked to St Ives from Glasgow, I was unaware that I was heading for an ‘artists’ colony’.

For me, ECA was a good experience, although, at the time, it was a very traditional institution with no visiting artists. Howard Hodgkin was the external examiner in my 4th year and refused to assess my final year show because it didn’t consist of paintings! 

ECA was a place for me to just make art and develop as an artist without thinking too much about the future.

However, I received a Summer Fellowship in my 3rd year to Study painting, printmaking, and photography at Yale University. Visiting America for the first time was an exciting prospect given Yale’s reputation. It also made me question what painting gave me as an artist.

By my 4th year I had stopped painting; there was nothing I wanted to paint. I moved into using other mediums & materials including glass, timber, and paper. 
I completed a postgraduate year at Goldsmiths College in London which supplied freedom to pursue a more cerebral approach to making art. 

"Howard Hodgkin was the external examiner in my 4th year and refused to assess my final year show because it didn’t consist of paintings!"

John Mitchell

1978 Drawing and Painting alumnus

Tell us about your experiences since graduating

I can’t remember how I felt when I left, possibly unhappy about the rigid divisions between disciplines. I applied to Goldsmith’s College in London for a postgraduate course and was accepted. 

After my studies, I started to show my work and then began teaching art at Reading University in 1989 while continuing to exhibit nationally and internationally. My greatest achievement is to continue to make art and exhibit while dealing with the daily tasks of life. 

Alumni wisdom 

Keep focused. 
Keep focused. 

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