To celebrate Valentine’s Day this year we are looking back at some of our very own alumni love stories. From the swinging- sixties to the naughty-noughties, love has never stopped blossoming in the corridors and the studios of the University of Arts London.
Vasundhara & Ronan
The first couple in our feature are the lovely Vasundhara Shankari Sellamuthu (Foundation Diploma in Art & Design, Chelsea) and Ronan Haughton (Photography, LCC, BA Hons). They met through a mutual friend at the student bar…
Ronan and I met at the University of the Arts London Student Hub on Davies Street in late 2008. I was with two friends from Manna Ash Halls of Residence. We decided to go to the Student Union bar as a friend who was leaving for Italy after finishing her course at UAL. Mid nachos, she received a call from her friend who she was going to meet after. He appeared and joined us at our table. The only thing I noticed was that his right hand was in a cast. He seemed pleasant and friendly, and softly spoken. Getting up to leave I picked up the numerous bags of stuff that my new life as an architecture student had bestowed upon me. I did not realise he found me attractive. As we were leaving the Hub, I invited my friend over for a goodbye meal. Seeing Ronan stood there, I invited him too.
The meal didn’t end up happening, but Ronan messaged me a day after saying he had walked around my block that night waiting for a call, but my call never came. I immediately felt guilty, then realised the irony. It was my first taste of his humour, something I’m still getting used to! He confessed he liked me. We met a couple of times, at a friend’s party, his friend’s dinner, tea at Candid café Angel, a walk in Victoria Park. I brought him coffee from India as a present and invited myself over to his place for a home-cooked Thai meal. I brought yellow flowers and dessert, a move that surprised me but excited me as well – challenging gender stereotypes and norms. We learnt about our different cultural backgrounds; it was exciting ground for a relationship. We dated through my student days in London, overcame tough times such as the recession, academic challenges and homesickness. Our love grew stronger and proved to be the best support. After I graduated in 2013, Ronan and I went on holiday to Paris with tickets he had won from a photography competition in which he shot the installation ‘Across the buildings’ at the new Central Saint Martins campus in Kings Cross.
In Paris he proposed to me. It was a complete shock where everything melted into a puddle of overwhelming surprise. It shifted the relationship from the present moment to the future. I thought about it overnight and the next day I proposed to him. I love wearing the Claddagh ring he got me, it makes me proud of my Irish connection. We continue discovering something new about each other all the time and look forward to a creative life, a desire that led us to UAL in the first place, and ultimately, to each other.
Last year Ronan and I made the big move to India and we live in Bangalore now. I work at GALLERYSKE, an art gallery which represents and exhibits some of India’s best contemporary artists and Ronan is pursuing his photography and other creative projects.
Jane Thornhill studied Fine Art at St. Martin’s School of Art, graduating in 1964. She tells us how attending the Saint Martin’s Christmas Ball one year brought her more than just festive cheer…
Whilst studying for a degree in Fine Art at St Martins, I made friends with two fellow students from New Zealand who were on the same course as me. When the time came for our Christmas Ball, we formed an exotic group to include a girl from South Africa, a couple of Aussies and me, originally from India. The girls from New Zealand had boyfriends who were army cadets, and they brought a bunch of guys to the Fancy Dress Ball to partner us. I remember the pantomime that was performed by all our lecturers was called ‘Flake White and the 7 Dwarves’ and the starring role was taken by our principal, Frederick Gore.
Being young and self-conscious about wearing specs, I could only make out fuzzy images when we met the group in a tiny bedsit on the King’s Road before the ball. But I could see two fair haired young men, one of whom was smiling at me all the time. They were best friends. I married the smiler and the other one was our best man!
This year we will be celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary.
I still have fond memories of my time spent at St Martins, as it is only because of being there that I met the love of my life.
Tim & Sarah
Tim Bulmer moved to London to study Theatre Design at Wimbledon College of Arts, and ended up meeting his very own leading lady…
My name is Tim Bulmer and I enrolled at Wimbledon School of Art in September 1978 having completed the Foundation Course at Teesside College of Art. I had rarely ventured “south of the border” (Doncaster) in my life so this was quite a departure. I had been provided a room by Zola Cameron, a secretary at the school (never ‘college’!) in Streatham and I started the course, Theatre Design, with enthusiasm.
I had lead a pretty sheltered life up to that point – solidly middle class – privately educated and yet hopelessly naive and awkward, especially where the opposite sex were concerned. I had never been a great success in that department and treated girls as if they were ‘honorary’ boys. I actually preferred their company especially after the limitations of an all-boys boarding school.
However there was one girl whose laugh I first heard on the corridor at the top of the main stone staircase in the School – she was on the Theatre Wardrobe course and I instantly recognised the fact that she was way out of my league and anyway I overheard her mentioning an Italian boyfriend… She was pretty, tall and full to the brim with wit, personality and talent. I didn’t even bother showing an interest as it was inevitably a lost cause and I didn’t want to end up making a fool of myself
As with all biography the interesting bit is always the struggle prior to goals achieved, and space is limited but mysteriously Sarah (for that was, and still is her name) was bizarrely attracted to me, and starting tentatively enough we eventually got together and moved into a flat just off the Wimbledon Broadway. Sarah covered the rent by working in the wardrobe department at Polka Children’s Theatre, and once I had my degree I was free to shift scenery backstage at The Wimbledon Theatre.
We married in 1982 and have been together for thirty four wonderful (though for various reasons often ‘interesting’) years. Sarah was a successful dress designer and maker, and I eventually started my own freelance art business. We now both work together and are a great team. We have a son, Freddy (24), who works for The Wine Society and is currently being put through The Wine Diploma by the Society and a daughter, Josie (20) who is on a year’s placement at the fashion department at Marks and Spencer whilst studying for a degree in Fashion and Knitwear at Nottingham Trent.
After 17 years in the north in and around York we have just swapped our large well-appointed five bedroom town house for a tiny two up two down tumble down cottage in West Sussex. There is a huge amount to do but we are every bit as excited as when we moved into our first house in 1985.
Olaf & Su
They became friends at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in the 1980’s, but that friendship led to more, including an international fashion collaboration…
Her name was Su Denney (now Parker) we were friends throughout the three years of the degree and got together towards the end of the 3rd year. Our first date was seeing Gil Scott Heron at Goldsmiths student union!
We started out designing textiles together, selling mostly to Parisian fashion houses and producers, the likes of Guy Laroche, Chanel, Scherrer, Boussac, Christian LaCroix, Lagerfeld etc… Later we started streetwear label Boxfresh and menswear brand Burro. We moved on from Boxfresh but continued with Burro, showing our collections on the catwalk in Paris and opening stores in London and Tokyo. We still own and run the Burro brand but mostly we consult and design for other brands.
We live in Otford in Kent and have two children, Eric 15, and Margot 20.
Eileen & Annirut
The final love story we have needs help with its happy ending. Eileen Waterman met Annirut at the London College of Fashion, they fell in love, but lost contact over time. Can you help reunite them?
I was a student of the London College of Fashion in 1967/68, and I fell in love with a Thai boy named Annirut. We got engaged, but unfortunately (the 60’s being what they were) I was unfaithful and he broke off the engagement. The last I heard from him was a letter from Switzerland.
For years now I have been trying to trace him, but to no avail. The fact that I can’t recall his last name does not help. I have recently made an appeal to the daily mail to help with my search. I hope one day we find each other, but as the years roll by it seems unlikely…
Here is a picture of Annirut holding a cake box he had given me on Valentine’s Day. If you recognise Annirut, or have any information that might help Eileen with her search, please get in touch.