A moment that changed me: when I failed my O-level in my favourite subject

The results for my art exam came in and I felt talentless, a dunce. For decades I was too scared to pick up a paintbrush, until a powerful woman entered my dreams

Having hands, I drew with them. That’s what hands were for: grasping crayons, freely and joyously making marks. I scribbled on the walls at home, on the pavements outside, as most children love to do.

At primary school, we learned to write using slates and chalks, with wetted sponges to hand. Writing seemed another form of drawing, scrawling loops and curves. We shaped individual letters into repeating lines. They were abstract forms, delightful but meaningless patterns. I had trouble learning to read clumps of letters as words, but I could draw them.

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