Portrait of the Academic as a Student: Rupert Loydell
What did you study at university, and why did you choose that subject?
I had four years out, working and travelling, before I went to university, as my Art Foundation course totally put me off art. I signed up to a BA (Hons) Creative Arts because of the writing element, but had to study something else too, so chose Fine Art. I was already editing Stride magazine and had published a several booklets of poetry by then
Which book changed the way you viewed the world or yourself?
It has to be Alan Garner’s Red Shift (cue groans from the first years) which I’d read as a teenager but really got into at university, to the extent that I based an art project around Mow Cop, where the novel is partly set, and went to interview Garner at his home and was instrumental in him being booked as a guest lecturer. It made me realise how different stories co-exist, how stories can be reinterpreted by different characters (and readers), and how books can work by association and suggestion. It also helped clarify that I like books that confuse and question and intrigue more than ones that explain and resolve.
If you could give your eighteen-year-old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep in touch with people, as they won’t be there for ever. My father died whilst I was at university and I could and perhaps should have visited more. Several of my best friends have either moved away or died and I wished we’d valued the time we had together more.
What was the hardest thing to learn?
That other people are not always interested in the same things as me, are not very inquisitive, and are often not interested in working hard. I am a quick reader, very organized (some would say excessively so), and I found it hard to deal with the fellow students who left work to the last minute – especially collaborative projects! In retrospect I think growing up before going to university is a good thing, which enabled me to have a lot of fun and work hard, using college facilities such as the recording studio and art studios to the maximum. I was also Social Secretary for my second year.
What was the soundtrack of your undergraduate years?
Lots if indie rock, particularly the first two Eyeless in Gaza LPs and my partner’s Marine Girls album. We had a fantastic record shop in Crewe where I used go and hangout. The owner would chat and play things for his customers for hours on end. I got into Nick Drake because of him. The other soundtrack were the bands I was in at the time: a pop-punk band, Megaton, and a more successful experimental duo (with lots of guest musicians), Face in the Crowd. We were always recording, gigging and working on – often live – soundtracks for dance events, as both my Russell’s and my own partners were both involved in lots of dance performances. There was a big experimental home-taping music scene and also a punk scene in Crewe at the time.
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