The painter, Jethro Buck, talks about his studies at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts and his forthcoming exhibition at Saatchi Gallery.
Jethro was awarded a scholarship to study at The Prince’s School and subsequently graduated with an M.A. in Traditional Arts in 2014. He was presented with the celebrated Ciclitira Prize by The Prince of Wales during the annual Degree Show and now paints at his studio in London.
Before joining The Prince's School of Traditional Arts, I had previously been in India learning how to paint traditional Indian miniature paintings. It was a window into a whole new way of being and seeing for me. In my first week there, I tried to describe to my teacher, Ajay Sharma, what I learned from life drawing classes in England and how I was taught to “draw what you see, not what you know”. Mr Sharma wiggled his head as I spoke, twisted his hand and softly said:
“Yes, yes. Look, everything you learnt in England, everything you know...now forget it.”
I soon realised that the act of submitting to a traditional process was required. I learned such a lot from following an ordered set of meticulous and disciplined methods that were so different from what I was used to.
It was a big contrast from my undergraduate Fine Art studies in the UK. I had a great time but the emphasis lay much more on my own individual practice and expression. So I chose to study on the MA in Traditional Art programme because of a fascination with and a desire to learn more about the ancient, time honoured truths and tacit knowledge that are handed down through generations from tutor to pupil. It’s the everyday unique tips you get from specialists that made this experience special for me.
It was great to spend two years with a group of students and tutors, all from completely different backgrounds. In my two years at The School I made really good friends with people from all over the world: Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Brunei, Taiwan, Pakistan, China, England, Iraq, Belgium, France, Iran. All of different ages, different religions, different creeds but all united with the common endeavour of making beautiful art in an environment that encourages the platonic integrality of the good, the true and the beautiful. Unity in diversity.
The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts has helped my artistic development by consolidating my intentions. It made me ask, why am I doing this? Beyond making an interesting image, what am I trying to do? I think it was Grayson Perry who said in one of his Reith Lectures that for him and in general “art is a sincere pursuit for meaning”. This ‘pursuit for meaning’ wasn’t really discussed at previous institutions I studied at, but at The Prince’s School it is openly acknowledged every day.
Sincerity alone doesn’t make good art but I think it’s an important ingredient. I’ve also learned that an idea is only as strong as its execution and The School has helped in this sense by providing me with a space to learn forms and techniques and then to practice them. This practice is ongoing and my forthcoming exhibition at the START Art Fair at Saatchi Gallery represents the next stage in my artistic journey.