May 11, 2021

A prophecy: An unusual and foreboding sky – a dark-light – covered the seaward side of the town. The day looked like it was ending, even as it began. Was this a portent of an unsettled period ahead in the national psyche? I recalled how, prior to the English Civil War, many people experienced collective visions of black burning rectangles floating in the sky. They were interpreted as harbingers of turmoil to come (diary (December 11, 2019)).

Monday, May 10. 8.00 am: A communion. 8.30 am: I’d put aside an hour yesterday to provide feedback to the anxious and impetuous regarding their PowerPoint submissions for various modules. First thing, I caught up with the Teams correspondence and final pre-submission for me to sign-off. This is the first day of assessments. The pattern and priorities of work now changes. 9.00 am: The statutory Monday-morning admin beckoned. Some External Examiner correspondence, to begin. This was followed by final consultations on submissions and a postgraduate admissions review. We receive too many applications from people either from abroad or homebased who either haven’t done their homework or are otherwise clearly unsuitable. ‘I’m sorry, we don’t do interior design or sculpture or scenography or ceramics’. An applicant wrote: ‘I want to apply to your department because Aberystwyth is one of the ancient universities of the UK.’ That’s a nice thought; if somewhat wide of the mark, historically. Another believed Aberystwyth University was situated in Fiji. Which is another nice thought.

Of late, I’ve had to turn away several promising PhD applications who wanted me to be their supervisor. The doors of the Ark are closed, I’m afraid. One by one, the tent pegs get pulled up. All in all, the process of necessary rejection is a significant investment of time, and to no fruitful end. 1.45 pm: Job done!

2.00 pm: To the School to hold a consultation with one of my PhD fine art tutees in the double gallery, where they’ll hold their doctoral exhibition in June. At last, the space was finding its identity again:

3.00 pm: On my return home, I held another consultation with another one of my tutees, who’s already passed the point of exhibition. 3.30 pm: Back to my day’s schedule … which extended into the evening, over some bumps in the road to submission.

Tuesday, May 11. 7.30 am: Promenade/communion. I couldn’t have asked for better weather. The breeze was ionised; the sunlight, crisp and strong — enlivening everything it touched upon.

Last night, I’d dropped a comment into a Facebook politicking about the present, uncomfortable ideological resonances of the Union Jack. I wrote that the flag ‘has emotional overtones that I associate with the swastika’. Some amplification and defence of my thoughts were necessary:

The Union Jack has been corrupted, just as had classical architecture following the era of National Socialism in Germany. For decades afterwards, no one could build in that style without also evoking the material trappings of dictatorship and murderousness. Hitler stole the swastika from the Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Originally, it had only positive and beneficent associations. Those significations were lost, and the sign was corrupted — irredeemably, perhaps. The Union Jack was first hijacked by the likes of the British National Party and other white-supremacist groups. It was also, later, adopted as a banner of UKIP and the Brexit parties. Consequently, it became associated with concepts such as exclusivism, intolerance, racism, totalitarianism and bigotry. To my mind, that ideological overwriting of the original significations has carried over into the Conservative Party’s use of the flag. How could it not?

9.00 am: The Diary (July 16, 2014 — September 4, 2018) had developed some bugs that needed squatting. The very able Mr Illiff was at my disposal. However, a page-by-page review of the site from end to beginning has to be undertaken in order to identify whether there’re any further failures in the coding. I dedicated the first part of the morning to uncovering them. They all must be fixed by the close of the week. That’s my determination. 11.15 am: On with general admin, assessment, and assessment admin. Back at the School, some of the MA Fine Art students were beginning to set up their show. It won’t have an opening, and the public can’t attend until the Welsh Parliament say so. But at least they’ll have the incomparable experience of seeing their work on a gallery wall. There’s no substitute.

On with assessing my tutees’ submissions to Mr Croft’s Research and Process in Practice module:

Onwards. I batted between reviewing work and revising webpages throughout the afternoon. 6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: I returned to the afternoon’s routine. Diary-wise, I’m now at the beginning of 2017. The date seems to be both a long-time ago and strangely immediate. This is a reality that’s endemic to the diaristic genre: the past is not allowed to be forgotten. Rather, its held in stasis within the bubble of its own present.

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