April 15, 2021

7.15 am: Proof of presence:

7.45 am: A communion. 8.15 am: I viewed the day’s landscape and incoming missives/missiles. For part of the morning I’d be teaching at home — dealing with students who, for various reasons, preferred online tuition still — and then at the School, for the remainder of the day, undertaking (masked) face-to-(masked) face tutorials. (‘Now … how did I used to do them? And, what do I need to take?’) 9.00 am: The first of the day’s third-year painting tutorials commenced online. 11.00 am: I headed for the School for three real-world encounters before lunch. The phrase ‘marching orders’ came to my mind several times throughout the day.

It was good to be back. Oh! How I’d missed treading those stairs to the upper studios:

But the thought that we’d operated under these conditions for over a year now, troubled me. While a number of students and staff were working in the building, the sense of its relative emptiness still dominated. My charge, and so many other students besides, have kept on going undaunted. They’ve been a credit to themselves and to the School. Today, together, my students and I made a compact to: be intelligently productive; esteem quality above quantity; work and rest intensively; and manage the pressure points humanely. Maintaining clear and regular communication, both inside and outside of tutorials periods, will be an imperative over the next month or so.

5.00 pm: ‘Surgery’ was closed. Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • T: ‘You’re not so much bored by lockdown as jaded by the limitations imposed on you by these present circumstances’.
  • T: ‘You need to be as attuned to the blank space around the object as to the object itself, in both the perception and the painting of such’.
  • T: Sometimes, it’s necessary to, first, include too much in the work in order to appreciate what’s just enough’.
  • T: ‘There’s a danger that the work’s title will straightjacket its significance for the audience. The most appropriate title ought to be to the work as a key to a lock — it should turn effortlessly and open possibilities.’
  • T: ‘You’re sailing on a canal barge in England … NOW?! HOW??!!’
  • T: ‘A productive working regime is predicated upon pace’.
  • T: ‘Rest is a necessary component of work, because periods of cessation actively improve our capacity to work intensively. Therefore, timetable rest as you would, work.’
  • T: ‘We’ve learned to accept the absence of colour in black and white photography in a way that we’ve never adapted to the absence of sound in silent film’.
  • T: ‘From henceforth, every hour of every day of every week counts thrice more than it did at the close of Semester 1’.

7.30 pm: The Thursday evening round-up: assessments, impromptu technical advice via Teams, pastoral counselling via Messenger, and readying for tomorrow’s penultimate Art/Sound session.

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