No hope is better than false hope.
8.20 am: A communion. 9.00 am: The beginning of an arduous but promisingly fulfilling week. I cast my eye over the mail in order to see what needed to be attended to immediately. I’d be bouncing from marking to teaching to advising, and from office to classroom to studio/exhibition space, for most of the week ahead.
I wrote to an intending MA applicant: ‘ Often, what we lack is a sense of inner necessity or motivation when it comes to making work. We’ve not yet convinced ourselves that art is what we should do … what we must do. If you can be fulfilled without making things, then don’t. Art is too demanding and, sometimes, dispiriting to be an accessory to life. Art, rather, is a way of being in the world’.
Periodically, I inspected the studios and waited for my charge to turn up. I’d be on-call throughout the day. In between my ambulations, I continued marking and dealt with pastoral consultations and postgraduate inquiries. This year, I walked the floor with a tool bag: it contains screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, a bradawl, Blue Tack, notebook and pen, and a small spirit-level – things that one ought to have to hand in any exhibiting scenario. The fruit of long experience:
2.00 pm: For some, this is the first time that they’d ever used a screwdriver. They’re learning skills that’ll pay dividends when they have their own homes. I’m impressed by the spirit of mutual support and practical assistance that blossoms among the students at this time of year. They work as one. There’s no place for the either the assertive ego or the lone ranger. This year, I sense that the exhibiters are ahead of the curve.
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- S: ‘Less is more, correct?’ T: ‘Less is enough, on this occasion.’
- S: ‘Do you have any final words of advice?’ T: ‘Be brave!’
- Give yourself time to consider the order of the hang; don’t be in a rush to get the works up on the wall. You’re encountering a new learning experience. Luxuriate in it.
- You don’t have to hang everything that you’ve made. Aim for sufficiency and coherence. On a very few occasions, the best thing you’ve ever made may have to be omitted in order to honour those conditions.
- There’s either right or wrong, or more or less appropriate, or a good or best way to hang work.
- Exhibiting is a throughly analogue experience: you get your hands and face covered in paint spatters, your knees ache from kneeling, your wrists and arms are sore from screwing and hammering, and the blood drips forth when the Stanley knife slips. This is reality.
5.15 pm: Homeward.
5.30 pm: Shower:
7.30 pm: An evening of email catch-up, assessment admin, and further marking.