The lucky ruble
“Take it,” she says, fervently pressing it into my palm; still warm from hers. “It’s good luck, it will bring you good luck. Well…” she pauses, “not necessarily good luck but what will happen is meant to happen. So, if it doesn’t go well…”
Those words, uttered by my brilliantly crazy and crazily brilliant Russian best friend, ring in my mind as the ruble presses against my thigh, warming as the sun bakes through the black denim of my jeans and I wend my way westwards to the nations great capital.
Destination: School of Art, Australian National University, Australian Capital Territory.
The School of Art is a large white building with a tinge of the deco lurking in the generous strip windows and molded clock face edifice above the entrance. As I arrive, a girl with a beehive of auburn curls pinned in an interlocking pattern is trying to hoist a rack wardrobe bursting with coloured creations up the front steps. Her parents assist, shouldering the wardrobe while at the same time balancing boxes overflowing with visual arts diaries. Behind her appear more inter-generational pairings, all lugging moving boxes that brim with the creative imaginings of their offspring.
The registration queue inside is long and slow. Its length is partly due to the fact that nearly every applicant has bought at least one supporting character.
I am, I think, the most alone person here.
A girl in ripped tie-dye jeans floats past, murmuring to the girl behind me, “you looked so beautiful last night at Formal”.
I am, I think, the oldest person here. Not counting the parents.
If the queue gives me doubts, the hour walking around the graduate exhibition ahead of my first (of four) interviews, does much to allay them. As a body of work it is varied, diverse and demonstrates an impressive breadth of skill. I find myself wanting to buy several things and wishing I’d made several more.
My painting interview is a bit rough. I say I love Rothko (which goes down well) but that I think his stipulation to the Tate Modern that his paintings be shown just after a Turner held by the gallery invites a unfavourable comparison (this doesn’t go down well, one of my interviewers hates Turner, the other finds him ‘dull’).
Thirty minutes later and I go again, this time for ceramics. My actual knowledge of the practice of ceramics is really very light on (after all, why learn the skills before you learn the skills?) but the interviewers are kind, weaving generalities and enticing hypotheticals together with anecdotes of the ceramics professors asparagus farm. Apparently you cut them off like flowers. Om nom nom.
Next is glass and by now I feel I’ve hit my stride. So many interviews so close together has taken me back to the halcyon days of law firm clerkship interviews, when I got so good at convincing other people what I wanted that I convinced myself too.
An hour lying in the sun before my last interview sees me develop the dreamy haze of sunstroke, which would be an issue, but I’ve got the last slot for the day and after 10 hours I’m not the only one that is feeling the drag. A fairly cursory chat and we’re all on our way, me to buy a bottle of wine and perhaps a lotto card…. after all, I have my lucky ruble.