Art has been a major part of my life for as long as I can remember. I was 11 when I took part in my first ever art competition. It was in Italy and we’d just moved there. I was thrilled to come second; even though I really wanted to come first, I was still proud of myself and I let my imagination carry me away. Could I one day be a proper artist? It was something I kept daydreaming about ever since winning that first competition.
My art teacher at school encouraged me to keep my passion alive and helped me develop my talent. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the stuff she taught me throughout school prepared me a lot for university, which I attended in England many years later. So far, I hadn’t actually made the decision to become a full-time artist. For some reason I just didn’t make the leap – looking back I really wish I’d just grabbed it and gone with it because the following years would bring a lot of heartache, which I could have avoided.
Life is full of decisions that are made and not made. It’s so crazy to think how many different possible paths your life can take based on your decision making. Sometimes halfway through your life you make a decision and it opens so many new opportunities for you. You meet new and different people and find yourself in a new chapter of life that’s exciting and not where you ever expected to be.
One evening I was sitting at home, just passing the time away by staring out of the window. I was in my mid-thirties and wasn’t happy with where I was in life. The place I was in just felt wrong. Something had to change. I confided in a work colleague who encouraged me to book an appointment with the local careers advisor. It seemed to happen at exactly the right moment because I then found out that half of my job was being given to a different department, so I spent most of the day just looking out the window staring into space.
My appointment was for the next day so I had to make up some excuse for my boss, who bought it, thankfully. The advisor asked me what it was that I wanted to do with my life and what I saw myself doing in ten years’ time. The first thought that came to me was that I’d be a rich and successful artist. I’d rather be anywhere where I currently was. I started telling the advisor where I saw myself. It was then I realised I should tell her I’d need a proper qualification in art so she’d take my problem more seriously. Right then and there the one thing I wanted to do above all else was to start a brand new chapter of the rest of my life.
The advisor did listen and swung round in her chair to face her computer. She did a bit of research then gave me a list of some universities I could apply for. One was really close by – in fact it was just up the road from where the advisor lived. I decided straight away that I wanted to broaden my horizons and not go to a local university. The next choice on the advisor’s list was in Surrey. I decided I was going to get accepted into that university and the advisor gladly handed me an application form. I was full of determination, I had something to aim towards and I couldn’t believe I was finally going about realizing my dreams after doing nothing for so long.