Explore Your Archive: Maidstone’s first international student

Follow the whole story of UCA’s creative arts history here

UCA’s alumni magazine Creative Update undertook an interview with Maidstone’s first international student:

‘Creative Update spoke to Despina Meimaroglou, the very first international student to study at one of our founder colleges, the Maidstone College of Art. She talked to us about her experience, and how it helped her become a successful practicing artist.

Despina studied a National Diploma in Design at Maidstone from 1961 to 1965. Originally from Greece but brought up in Egypt, she chose the college after a recommendation from her uncle.

She found it challenging, being both the first international student and the only foreigner studying at the campus at the time. She said:”I struggled tremendously for at least the first three months to comprehend the English language spoken around me. As a result my main nightmare was the incapacity to follow a lecturer and take down notes.”

But to this day her fondest memory comes from the words of another student who said: “Despina you are one of us.”

A number of other people influenced her study in the UK, and career thereafter. She told us: “From day one Brian Wildsmith was the teacher who stood by me, believed in my talent and gave me a lot of encouragement and he continues to be my role model so many years on.”

Her experiences adapting to the differences in the UK, in conjunction with continuous world travel throughout her career, have been a major inspiration for her work.

She said: “It taught me how to comprehend the differences and similarities which bind us with others and therefore enable the collaboration between us. And this is exactly what my art is based upon.”

Despina’s work is currently in the mediums of digital photography and video. Over the years she has experimented with printmaking, typography, monoprints, Polaroid and large Xerox prints.

Her work looks at the mutual relationship between reality and its representation; truth and fiction; social and political facts and their distortion. “My aim is to capture and reconstitute my perception of truth from layers of time and memory as well as from mediation of social and media induced stereotypes,” she said.’

Maidstone prospectus

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