May 20, 2021

Wednesday, May 19. 7.00 am: A communion. Something about the mood of this early morning cast my mind back to the time when, as a 12-year old, I would walk from my house to that of my friend close-by, before we, together, journeyed on foot to Abertillery Grammar School. Always, his parents would be clearing up the breakfast things when I arrived. Always, the ‘Good Morning Wales’ radio news could be heard in the background. In our house, we neither ate breakfast together (my father worked shifts at Dunlop Semtex in Brynmawr) nor listened to other than London-based BBC programmes at that or any other time of the day.

8.30 am: I began a reverse review of the dairy from the end to the beginning in order to check that my modifications in ‘edit’ mode had transferred to ‘read mode. There’re only so many anomalies that can be identified in any one pass over the document. 9.00 am: Shop ‘Open’. I began writing feedback arising from yesterday’s review of undergraduate Exhibition submissions. Delicacy and restraint are required these days. ‘In my day’, assessments were very much more confrontational and blunt. Tutors weren’t concerned about how you took the criticism. Their task was to deliver an honest and professional judgement. Even if it meant shooting from the hip. If you were upset by what they’d said, then that was your look out. You needed to toughen-up. In those days, students left their personal life and feelings at the door of the art school when they came in to work. Tutors, for their part, didn’t consider that counselling and providing emotional support were within their remit. And they weren’t. Tutors were tutors, and not your ‘buddies’. Education was ‘strictly business’, as they say.

Emails and student inquiries were dealt with in between reports. (A change is as good as a rest.) I was ambitious to complete all of the feedback for yesterday’s trawl before returning to the fray to examine the MA submissions this afternoon. 2.00 pm: I renewed my partnership with Dr Forster, as well plunged headlong into MA fine art assessments.

4.00 pm: Task complete (for the time being). I needed air and a long distance to look into:

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: The evening was a mixed-bag of academic reference writing and diary-post checking.

Thursday, May 20. 7.00 am: A communion. 7.30 am. But into the fray, beginning with a review of PhD submissions and moving on to composing feedback in response to yesterday’s MA assessments. In between, I’d continue modifying diary posts. This would be the mission and pattern for the day. Wind and rain; rain and wind. Some ‘choice cuts’ from the day’s table:

  • Your restrictions presented you with a challenge that created an opportunity.
  • Even under the difficult circumstances that have prevailed during the past year, you’ve not allowed yourself an excuse to flag for a moment.
  • The Artist Research section of your submission demonstrates that you were open to and hungry for influence and inspiration.
  • The suite of works provides an intriguing testament to our recent lives and times.
  • Your sense of resolution and the simplicity of execution has exceeded that evident in previous works.
  • You really used the PowerPoint format to its best advantage.
  • As I said before you embarked on the module, a transformation will occur as you begin to loss heart with the obvious and predictable and lean towards the personal and unknown.
  • You’ve moved from description to evocation.
  • Since the end of that module, the discipline of iconographic development, economy of colour and form, and emotional focus have grown incrementally. That single-minded pursuit has developed into a body of work that is coherent and articulate.
  • One of the principal achievements of this present body of work is its emotional strength and consistency.

I’ve enjoyed the ‘bootleg’ video of School’s Postgraduate Show, chiefly. I hope to take a look-in the undergraduate and postgraduate shows on Monday, in a period of respite from assessing. Posts-wise, by the close of the afternoon I’d reached the beginning of the initial Diary. 6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: Back to the routine. I was winning on all fronts.

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May 18, 2021
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