March 2016

Jenny Down 234x234

Jenny Down

BA Hons Art History 1997


1.  Tell us about yourself. 

Born in 1923 in Barnstaple, Devon.

World War II was on when I left school, so having a great love of the sea and messing about in boats, I joined the Women's Royal Navy Service. However, the Powers That Be decided to send me to an airfield in Scotland where I served as a lorry driver in the Fleet Air Arm.  Off duty I became very involved in Camp Concerts, specialising in drama.

Demobbed at the end of the war, I approached a local professional Repertory Company for advice on an acting career, and often auditioning was told to report for rehearsals the following morning. So began my working life in the theatre.

In 1994 I was living in Cambridge when Anglia was offering places for mature students.  I didn't think they meant that mature, but to my amazement I was offered a place on the History of Art course, and graduated in 1997, aged 74.

2.  What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?

Being treated as an equal by the other students and never allowed to feel old.

3.  What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate? 

Don't panic: the examiners aren't the enemy - they'd actually like you to graduate.

4.  What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst you were studying?

That life is a continuous on-going learning process.  You don't have to try to cram all knowledge into three years.

5.  How did your time at Anglia help you?

It gave a boost to my very low self-confidence. When we were allowed to sample other courses, I tried European Literature, and Philosophy although I knew nothing about either subject.

6.  What did you love about your chosen course?

Sitting in at lectures just looking at works of art from different ages, different countries, whilst being told about the artists: how could anyone not love it?

7.  What would you tell someone thinking of studying at Anglia?

Go for it.  You won't find a friendlier, more helpful place anywhere.

8.  In one word how would you describe Anglia?

Welcoming.

9.  Who was the biggest influence on your career?

My son. He practically forced me to apply for a place at Anglia.

10. Of what accomplishment are you most proud?

Travelling the world seeing so many Art Galleries and understanding what to look for in the paintings, sculptures etc. Before Anglia, I hadn't a clue and found Galleries and Museums dead boring.

11. What advice would you give your younger self?

Never be afraid to try something new. You might actually enjoy it.

12. What drives you?

The world is a big place, full of so many marvels.  Our time here is so short - don't waste it. See and do as much as possible in a life-time.

13. What’s next?

Let me see: Where haven't I been? What haven't I done?