April 23, 2020

WFH: DAY 24. 8.15 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Today was set aside for third-year painting tutorials. Inevitably, the conversations would range wider, taking in matters of health, well-being, and administration. Yes. We’d all like the present reality to be other than it is. But with the ‘curse’ comes the opportunity to: reflect more thoroughly upon who we are; determine why we do what we do, and to what end; and invent new ways of being the artists that we’re seeking to become. Art thrives under duress. The present crisis, rather than being an excuse to throw in the towel, ought to catapult us into a renewed commitment to our calling, and a determination to resist pessimism and make sense of things.

I look forward to talking with my tutees each week. Their conversation is sustaining. Due to the lockdown, we’ve had to part company prematurely. Each, now, stands upon a different shoreline, calling to the other across an ocean’s breadth.

I watch the three nodding dots change tone, expectantly. To a woman and man, they’re all getting on with it: facing up to the challenges and to themselves. The best students are always those who take personal responsibility very seriously. You can’t hope to be a successful artist without it. In the absence of integrity, you’re sunk … however much talent you may claim to possess.

House (detail) #3:

1.00 pm: Seven down and six more to go. By afternoon, I began to look bedraggled. The post-lunch brigade favour video chat. I appreciate the variety. Either typing or talking continually is tiring.

4.30 pm: My last appointment (by messaging). And so an opportunity for a musical accompaniment. (In the background: Mike Westbrook’s Love Songs (1970).)

Some reflections upon today’s engagements:

  • S: ‘Large-scale works don’t feel appropriate at the moment’. T: ‘They’re too public and communal. Whereas, this is a time for intimacy and isolation.’
  • S: ‘Sometimes the mundane domesticity of home gets in the way of work.’ T: ‘By some means or other we need to establish a creative bubble within which to work.’
  • (On accepting a picture’s simplicity.) T: ‘Don’t feel as though you have to fill the whole room with furniture.’
  • T: ‘This present crisis prevents us from exhibiting our work. It doesn’t necessarily forestall the opportunity to be taught, learn, develop, improve, and even exceed our expectations.’
  • T: ‘This crisis demands a degree of tenacity and concentration, and a discipline of the mind, heart, and soul, that have never before been brought into play.’

7.30 pm: A second walk to the municipal cemetery. I steered my way into its dark heart.

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