8.00 am: A communion. 8.15 am: Bags packed, I headed off to the School, via Llanbadarn Road and Trinity Place, following a path that I’d not walked since March. It felt both familiar and yet entirely different, now. 8.30 am: I’d an entire seminar room for the whole day in which to conduct my face-to-face, one-to-one tutorials. (Dr Forster and I have to work on different floors and never cross paths, just in case we infect one another and both go down, thus scuppering the School’s painting provision.) Space, aeration, and sanitiser and wipes (looking for all the world like a readymade): What more could a young lad want?:
Thursday during the term has forever been my time for teaching the undergraduate painters. Today, it was my third-year group. NHS app on, I inducted each tutee on the protocols of the room and our conduct therein and, at the close, wiped-up after them, as would a hairdresser following a cut. The scene felt part hospital consultation, part party-game, and part like it always used to be. Both tutee and tutor were conscious that they had as much responsibility for managing each other’s health and safety as they did an educational exchange. Every move was made with deliberation and awareness. However, once art came into focus, our contextual anxieties evaporated.
After lunch, I took the afternoon contingent through its paces. An air of earnestness had pervaded today’s discussions. These are serious times in which the importance of art in the world is plain to see. I’d missed seeing my tutees and their work in three dimensions. There was one moment when the light broke through and we both could see. In that instant, tutee and tutor ceased from their respective roles and sat at the feet of a truth so persuasive it was almost physical. I suspect it would not have occurred had we conducted the tutorial online.
Observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:
- T: ‘We can either sit on our hands in despair or make something of this period in world history.’
- T: ‘My aim today is to narrow the scope of your interests to a singularity and, then, help you move outwards in all directions from that point.’
- T: ‘What is it to be a young woman living now? And what difference does it make to the work you produce?’
- Making art is not like mountaineering. The climber may point to a summit and say: ‘That’s where I’m headed’. For the artist, the peaks are covered in cloud and mist for the longest time. We tread, one foot in front of the other, stumbling up the incline without a map, not knowing how far there is to go or whether we’ll make it.
Signs of the times:
5.15 pm: Home. 6.50 pm: A visitation, from our younger son whom I’ve not seen since our evening out at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London, in March.