November 28, 2019

8.20 am: Onto the road as dawn still struggled to push through the canopy of rain cloud that pressed down low upon it:

I picked up combustibles. This supermarket needed to extend its range of sarnies. The Christmas dinner between two slices of bread type were now on sale:

8.45 am: My staff card wouldn’t open the main door of the School. 8.50 am: The projector control panel in the main lecture theatre malfunctioned. (‘What’s happening!’) I was the common denominator; I was to blame. Hastily, I secured a seminar room, put-up signage, re-routed students, reported the problem to Information Services, and then recovered my composure in order to deliver today’s only Abstraction lecture. The second had been cancelled in order to permit those who were attending Elizabeth ‘Girlie’ Harrison’s funeral late this morning time to reflect upon the event and talk to her family afterwards, Life and death are, in the end, of far greater importance than art and its study:

10.15 am: The beginning of a day’s third-year painting tutorials. Several of my students are making abstract responses to music. None of them had taken my Art/Sound module, sadly. The possibilities for development are as exciting as they are extensive. We discussed at Walt Disney’s Fantasia (1940), which was the first populist exposure of music-animation conjunctions. Although much more interesting and demanding experimental work in this area had been pursued for several decades prior to the film’s release. The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine (1968) is another landmark in the interpretative application of animation to music. I’m also endeavouring to address the students’ attention to the technology of hearing music – the audio-acoustic experience. How does one translate stereophony, the left-right positioning of sound, the sonic depth of field, and the kineticism of music onto a static visual plane?

Some students studying for the Creative Arts degree are endeavouring to consider how to fuse their endeavours across several visual art modules. A tough call. The level of anxiety among young people is troubling. They have my sympathy. Some would be less anxious if only they’d get down to work and discover that they can hack it after all. Others, however, are afflicted with a less-defined malaise. Living as though in a sci-fi film where the world is doomed to fry during their lifetime doesn’t help. Neither does the prospect of a lifetime paying off an educational mortgage against a background fewer job opportunities, a longer working life, and a smaller pension.

I worked my lunch and endeavoured to make some response to emails and their implications during the time when I’d have otherwise delivered today’s second lecture. 2.30 pm: Back on the shop floor. I want students to develop a breadth of culture: to read widely, listen to challenging music; and watch the masterpieces of cinema. I encouraged one student to seek for that sense of place, that they’re so consummately able to summon in their painting, in the novels and poetry of Thomas Hardy and the music of Aaron Copeland and Vaughan Williams.

6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: The weekly round-up of teaching and other admin.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • Things will only begin to happen to you, gratis, after a long period of you making things happen for yourself. Create the opportunities, therefore.
  • T: ‘You’ll become aware that, just as you get to know the landscape, it gets to know you.’
  • T: ‘The painting alludes to something in the landscape that is invisible but which can be, nevertheless, expressed and perceived through the painting. It’s a mystery.’
  • In the age of analogue photography, we preserved the narrative of our lives in albums, which we could ‘read’ like a historical picture book. In time, some of its contents (like us; like our memories) either faded or discoloured. Digital photography is relatively immutable and able to be constantly reconstituted; inhuman in that respect.
  • Art education should encompass art … and everything else. I have found it to be an education in life.
  • Take the painting you most hate, and continue to work with it.
  • There’re very few things that you’ll make which have no redeemable value.
  • T: ‘Don’t paint the subject matter; rather, paint only the phenomenon that inheres the subject matter.’
  • T: ‘Don’t over-rehearse your coming exhibition; hold back something in reserve, lest you peak too soon.’
  • T: ‘Your painted-writing is indiscipherable as comprehensible words, but remarkable as a text.’
  • S: ‘I worry about my work becoming permanent.’

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November 27, 2019
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