April 14, 2021

My li’l toe is indigo

Tuesday, April 13. Last night, I accidently damaged my left foot. Today, I was hobbling. I’d not be in a position to put my feet up over the next few days, but I could refrain from walking, to a large extent. Face-to-face tutorials would have to be substituted by online engagements for the next few days. 7.45 am: A communion. 8.15 am: Emailery and announcements. 8.30 am: I prepared materials and a plan of action in readiness for the mid-morning PhD Fine Art viva voce. 9.00 am: GP-ology: ‘Your position in the queue is … 8’. When it got to ‘1’, my phone’s battery died. [Threw up hands in the air.] When I did finally get through on another phone, all the appointments had been taken. [Threw up feet in the air.]

10.30 pm: The examination process began. And it was rigorous, as it ought to be. This was scrutiny at the highest level in university education. It’s always a privilege to Chair such events. 12.30 pm: A successful outcome! 1.30 pm: Then there was the necessary admin clean-up, once the ‘party’ was over. 2.00 pm: The marking of an undergraduate art history dissertation beckoned. 3.15 pm: Refreshments: It tasted good; did me good; but looked like dirty water in a jar for washing brushes:

3.30 pm: The first of two MA fine art tutorials. Those who are completing either their Portfolio or their Exhibition modules have, now, just under a month left to finalise their submission. Ordinarily, I’d relish the intensity that builds as students and staff, together, drive towards a conclusion. However, during this last year, it has been difficult to obtain a sense of that corporate enterprise. All that I’ve been able to experience is the individual endeavours of my tutees. 7.30 pm: I returned to dissertation marking.

Wednesday, April 14. 8.00 am: A communion.

8.30 am: I waited in the GP’s telephone queue, to the looped-sound of a rather naff-reggae backbeat. (What does that music have to do with me, my health, my doctor, and their practice? Nothing.) 9.00 am: The first of the morning’s MA fine art tutorials. Some principles and observations derived from this morning’s engagements:

  • T: ‘When walking through the landscape, you’re conscious of: the solidity of the soil; the invisible air; the moistness of the grass; the wind and the rain against your skin, and their sound in the trees (as well as other sounds); and movement, along with the consequent changes in your perspective and relation to the horizon line. And, yet, so often, we paint the landscape as though It’d been experienced from indoors, through a window, while we were nailed to the spot and with our head in a clamp’.
  • T: ‘If a painting “says” anything, then it’s about some aspect of who we are, surely. It’s a meditation upon the nature of both the subject and ourselves (as ourselves) in relation to that subject’.
  • T: ‘You can’t create a series of tick-box criteria against which to evaluate your work. In part, that’s because the work is too complex and internally reflexive to be reduced to statements about aims and objectives’.
  • T: ‘Step into the painting without either a map or a guidebook or a sense of direction and destination. You’re only intent should be to not revisit places that you’ve been to before’.

11.45 am: My GP called and a plan of action, agreed. 12.00 pm: I attended to forward planning my teaching engagements for the following week. At this time of the year, our days pass ‘swifter than a weaver’s shuttle’ (Job 7.6). The end is nigh before you know it. So it pays to live both in the present (which is all that we can be sure of) and (speculatively) a few squares further along on the game board. 12.45 pm: I’d been invited to submit a paper on my Noisome Spirits project to a conference entitled ‘Glorious Sounds: The Soundscape of British Nonconformity, 1550-1800’, which will be held in July (having been postponed). An abstract was required.

1.30 pm: On with the abstract. (In the background: Pink Floyd, Ummagumma (1969).) And so was born: ‘”The Spirit Cried” (Mark 9.26): Sounds of the dead, damned, and demonic in the landscape of eighteenth-century Wales’. 3.15 pm: Once submitted, I returned to the project websites. 6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: More website.


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