8.30 am: On arrival at the School, I discovered that I’d left on my digital recording device yesterday. Remarkably, the batteries were still functioning, but I’d accrued a massive 23-hour long file:
I wondered what it’d recorded. Had the School’s ‘ghosts’ whispered into the microphone? During the ‘Noises of Art’ conference, held at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre in 2013, I deliberately recorded, through the night, the sounds within the round rehearsal studio on the first floor. Some of the phenomena captured was decidedly inexplicable.
9.00 am: What was going to be a double-act delivery of today’s talk on blogging – for the Research, Process, and Practice module – ended up as a monologue. (‘Due to the indisposition of [insert], the part of [insert] will be played by Ms John Harvey.’). The presentation was too much about me. 10.00 am: There’s a nasty bug going round that descends suddenly, as ‘the Assyrians … like wolves on the fold’. A cancellation ensued, as a consequence. But I’ve always something else to which to default on such occasions. (Admin, of course.)
10.40 am: I took a walk to the Old College. For the greater part of the rest of the day I undertook BA, MA, and PhD fine art tutorials. At whatever the level of teaching, it seems to me that the conversation is always the same, when the participants are attuned. It begins and ends with the student’s sense of being and purpose.
In the course of one conversation, I recalled ‘the sweep’ who periodically swept the lounge kitchen in my childhood home. He came covered in soot and taped a seal around the entrance of the fireplace. Through the hole in the centre of a square mask, he’d insert his brush, joining dirty pole to dirty pole until its spiky-head poked through the chimney pot. (The sight was always a delight.) I’ve not thought about this in decades.
12.30 pm: I took lunch in the Old College Quad. I’d not done this, too, in a very long time. From there, I walked to a local watering hole for a rare decaf Americano, and an (not so rare) hour of admin catch-up.
2.00 pm: Back at the Old College: the day’s PhD tutorial. We covered a great deal of ground: metaphysical, religious, biblical, historical, psychological, and personal. Art cannot be either made or discussed in a vacuum. 3.10 pm: Back to the mothership for an undergraduate dissertation and a third-year painting tutorial, before attending to emails as the light dimmed.
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- Read the book, and let those things therein that are true and relevant find you. In the process of learning, knowledge runs to meet us.
- Stretch towards your boundaries, and consider what lies beyond the periphery of your practice.
- You must be able to destroy a picture in order to discover something far better.
- S: ‘The internet needs a past.’
- T:’ How does your work reflect the times in which you live, and those times through which you’ve not lived?
- T: ‘Instruct me how to teach you best.’
- T: ‘My maternal grandmother made something called ‘chuck-in cake’. Unlike regular cake-making, in which ingredients were added and mixed one-by-one, she would throw-in everything all at once, and then mix. Personally, I couldn’t taste the difference between cakes made using her approach and the ‘proper’ way. Gran’s example liberated me from a slavish and thoughtless commitment to rules, methods, and procedures when it came to creating things.’