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This report is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

Diary from Albania Jessica Douglas-Home

Earlier this month in Albania, in the burning heat of the centre of Tirana, I attend the second stage of the selection process for art students from all over Albania who are vyeing with each other to enter the Tirana Academy of Arts. An intense contest is taking place and in the crowded room the artists are there to prove their talent. Of the eighty students who first submitted their portfolios, only twenty have come through to this next stage. Now, with one of three models to choose from, each boy has staked his territory with a stand upon which he has built up the foundations for his work. As fast as he possibly can, he is pressing, shifting and scraping clay into a life-size study of a head. This is Friday morning, the fifth and final day. They have been at it from 9 am to 5 pm since Monday.

I enter another packed room on the second floor. Here sit three more models, surrounded again by young men (and women this time) who are about to complete portraits in oil on canvas. Some of the likenesses are brilliant, as were the pieces of sculpture downstairs. My immediate reaction is that all these students have already had exceptionally good traditional teaching in the basic technique of drawing, or else they have worked hard alone, studying how to draw. There is no comparison between the type of work produced by these students and the first year intake ...

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