November 21, 2019

8.00 am: There were a few remaining changes that needed to be made to the main website. Thereafter, I prepared myself for today’s 8.30 am to 5.30 pm slog. 8.15 am: On to town in search of lunch. Today, I threw caution, diet, and health to the wind and indulged in a baguette stuffed with everything … and an apple and black current flapjack … and a bottle of cranberry juice. I was decadence personified:

8.45 am: Alarm! My Abstraction PowerPoint for the 9.00 am lecture didn’t entirely match my script. And I couldn’t discern the reason for the discrepancy. So, at some speed, I reconfigured the ‘slides’ before bundling myself onto the podium. What a to-do! And the day had otherwise begun so well, too. This morning the module transitioned from Minimalism to Conceptualism and beyond:

10.15 am: My first third year painting appointment. One conversation this morning was about the music a student listened to while they painted out of doors. The music was not only in the student’s ear but also in the painting, in some sense. When I was an art student, a ghetto blaster was the closest we got to portable music, and not something you’d haul up a mountain along with your painting kit.

There’re a few things I’ve seen at the School that has been so touchingly sober as this. A natural and welcome memorial has grown up in Elizabeth’s studio space. This time last week she was among us and, like us, looking forward to next semester’s degree show. ‘Media vita in morte sumus‘ [‘In the midst of life we are in death.’] (The opening line of the Gregorian chant, Antiphona pro Peccatis (1300s).):

Our community has been diminished by a factor of 1. A light has gone out.

1.00 pm: The second of the day’s Abstraction lectures, on Postmodern culture. It was a bit of a rush, in order to rerun the Modulation Evaluation Questionnaire in the last ten minutes of the session. 2.00 pm: A working lunch before returning the studio at 2.30 pm. I’ve been impressed by the maturity that some students have shown in our discussions about their work. At times, I felt as though I was conversing with artists. The turning point in their understand invariably takes place when they make a connection between what the work is and who they are. On my final descent of the staircase, I bumped into Flora McLachlan. She expressed the idea far more wisely and poetically: ‘You have to let yourself in, eventually.’ Indeed: into the work and into yourself.

5.30 pm: Homeward. 6.15 pm: A practice session on guitar.

7.30 pm: Teaching roundup and preparations for the week of head.

Principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • Enjoyment can ease the process of making, but it’s hardly decisive as a criterion of assessment.
  • S: ‘What should I do to get a high grade?’ T: ‘First, forget that you asked that question. I certainly will.’
  • Speak well of people when you can and, preferably, while they’re still alive to hear you.
  • T: ‘Today, I witnessed several students discover something about the nature of art in relation to themselves that they didn’t know last week.’
  • T: ‘Your tap is only dripping. That, at least, suggests that there’s water in the system.Therefore, be hopeful.’
  • T: ‘Don’t neglect the inward journey as you move out towards the subject.’

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