LETTER : Polar bears in the exam room

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The Independent Online
Sir: Grim though the polar bears are on their clashing ice floes, Landseer's painting was not always shrouded during examinations at Royal Holloway College (letter, 21 June). When I sat my finals during a ferociously hot June fortnight shortly after the Second World War, they diverted and inspired my more distraught moments - along with the opulent beauties of the Marriage Market, and assorted dramas of Frith's thronged Railway Station, and the many other riches of Thomas Holloway's wonderful collection.

I remember them well, and gratefully, as I obtained a better degree than I probably deserved, inspired I believe by the vivid representations of all humanity around me. Indeed, I recommend that all important examinations should take place in an art gallery. At least those painful hours would be enlivened by the clamorous variety of life awaiting the unhappy contestant on the brink of his future. Whether the same beneficial results would follow finals taken in a contemporary art gallery, I would not hazard to say.

BARBARA SPRING

Saltash, Cornwall

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