What goes on in a famous composer’s head? Paul Gladstone did his research, set his imagination racing and came up with some answers that he hopes will earn him the foundation degree he has worked so hard for.
His busts of composers Sir Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Gustav Holst and Sir William Walton are on display at Newcastle College, complete with Paul’s witty representations of their imagined thought processes.
Holst, composer of The Planets, has Venus, Saturn and the rest spinning around his head while, above Vaughan Williams, a series of models shows a violin turning into a small bird – an artistic representation of the composer’s famous A Lark Ascending.
Paul, who lives in Whickham, Gateshead, is one of many students across the region whose work is on display in a multitude of final degree shows.
At 70, he is also proof that academic and creative achievement are not the preserve of youngsters with a career in mind. Paul joined Parsons, the Tyneside turbine company, at 15 in 1959 and retired aged 57 as a development draughtsman.
“But I wanted to learn more and I was looking around for things to do,” he said.
“I was in the papers when I was 21 because I won the Sir Claude Gibb Memorial Prize for craftsmanship with a model of a cruiser.”
Australian-born Gibb was an influential general manager of Parsons, officially CA Parsons & Co.
“I won that but I also used to make a lot of furniture and I was always into DIY and working on old cars. I’ve always really enjoyed making things and I fancied doing some sculpture.”
Paul attended art night classes in Gosforth and was then accepted on to the foundation degree in professional art practice at Newcastle College.
It has absorbed him for the last three years, with this latest project enabling him to explore his passion for classical music.
So what next? “I’ll take a year off but then I’ll apply for a university BA course at Sunderland or Northumbria,” Paul said.