August 16, 2016

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The early morning air had been cool, sharp, and enlivening. By the time I’d reached the School, at 8.45 am, the air had warmed considerably. A good prospect ahead. My first task of the working day: an MA Fine Art tutorial.

In my pigeon hole, I discovered this delight. (Never judge at CD by its cover.):

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I had forgotten about it, completely. Some time ago, Id been asked to contribute a sound composition to a compilation album on Mute Sound‘s experimental ‘1-minute autohypnosis’ series. My penny’s worth is a piece entitled Le Petit Exorcisme (a version of which will also be included on the bonus material that’ll accompany the new double CD release). The album’s description is as follows:

sex war noise faith white truth light europe dead seed red net Jung dollar neo time love-in city twenty new Cage zen self LSD dose Tesla sea place breaking-up father x-ray future loud blood sweat

I’m enthusiastic about these eccentric, no-budget, independent recording ‘companies’. They can take risks, because they’ve little to lose. That’s a pure and admirable ideal.

Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • Having trained hard and suffered disappointment, repeated failure, and the indifference and unconfidence of others, and wanted to throw-in the towel on too many occasions, you may now, finally, have learned how to fly. Learn to enjoy the fruit of your labour.
  • In our work, we walk upon a high wire over a deep dark pit, the nature of which will be different for each of us.
  • Wisdom is intuition nurtured by experience disciplined by thought informed by knowledge.
  • You’re most likely to make a breakthrough when you keep hammering at the same spot.
  • Life is not a rehearsal. Therefore, act now.
  • You may think that you’re merely channeling the work of past artists — such is the pervasive influence of their practice upon your own. However, you must trust both in your integrity and that — with determination and hard work — a distinctive ‘voice’ will one day emerge.

11.30 am: Back at homebase, I began reorganising my sound studio in readiness for the next audio project:

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I’m torn between two possible ventures in sound: the [SteelWorks] project (which is dependent on TATA Steel’s release of the copyright on the glass plate slides to go ahead); and Talking Bible (which I’d like to pursue in collaboration with the RNIB and its American counterpart, the AFB). I anticipate working on both projects simultaneously, until such time as one or the other comes into clearer focus. (I hedge my bets, on this occasion.)

3.00 pm: I conducted an MA Fine Art application interview. Every time I outline the philosophy and content of our the degree schemes, I appreciate the more what makes us distinctive and rare as an art school.

Evening. Back to the website project. Logos abound.



August 15, 2016

A weekend of finalising artwork images for the website, preparing intercessions (which were delivered on Sunday), and a casting off my old and immobilised NAD record turntable and replacing it with a Stanton T-52. My domestic vinyl collection is now back on line:

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6.30 am: An early morning jaunt to, through, and from Llanbadarn village was followed by a shower, breakfast, and exercises of the soul. This is now my routine. 8.45 am: To work. The focus of today’s endeavours was The Pictorial Bible III gallery. This would be mechanistic work; a necessary chore:

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Afternoon. Having assembled, dissembled, imported, and deleted the gallery more times that I’d care to confess, a better (belt and braces) solution was found to the problems of: a) including full captions, and b) providing adequately sized enlargements of the images. The captions will be part of the pdf document of each image, and made accessible from a link in the works’ inventory on the website page. The enlarged images will be accessible directly from the thumbnail gallery (now fixed courtesy of Mr Iliff’s diligent application) of the same. I couldn’t have arrived at this outcome without making trial and error.

Midway through the afternoon, I put my body through the paces of localised muscle exercises:

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George L. Mélio,  Manual of Swedish Drill (Based on Ling’s System) (late 19th century)

Evening. After my practice session on guitar, I returned to complete what I’d set out to achieve today. It’d taken far longer, involved numerous revisions and dimensions, and required more intelligent thought than I’d anticipated. I’ve not problem with that, if the result is far better than was intended. Thereafter, I worked on developing sound clips to insert into sound art pages of the website, and on improving the general appearance of the ‘Exhibitions (Solo)’ page.

 



August 12, 2016

A 9.00 am, no breakfast appointment at the hospital …

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followed by a recall at 10.00 am, because the nurse had forgotten to scan one of my organs:

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In between visits (and many glasses of water) I responded to, and initiated, emails. Mr Illif was contacted to render an informed opinion on my website’s ‘gallery’ malfunction. Then, on with preparing digital photographs of The Pictorial Bible I artworks. I’m toying with the idea of establishing links from the gallery thumbnails to either pdf or image files. The enlargement will then look like a plate page in the booklets, possess a fuller and better laid out caption, and be framed by far more empty white space. The image will be able to breath:

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Sanctuary I [Psm 134] (1999) oil on board, 81 × 81 cm

Afternoon. I maintained the same trajectory: questioning my morning’s decisions (Is there a better way?), and making trial of different formats and layouts until the optimal solution presented itself.

Mid afternoon and into the evening, we hosted two old friends that I’d not seen since my wedding day. The wife’s father had been the head of music at Nantyglo Comprehensive School, Monmouthshire. He was a teacher of extraordinary commitment and energy who valued a student’s enthusiasm above that of their talent. This allowed those, such as me, who had no formal musical training and little natural aptitude for the subject (or anything else for that matter) to participate in choirs and orchestras at school and county level. Good teachers enable us to transcend our own and other people’s expectations of our potential. He taught me that incompetence was not necessarily an obstacle to success, and that a lack of confidence and a sense of inadequacy, rather than the absence of conspicuous ability, are often the greatest hindrances to achievement and the hardest to overcome:

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The Madrigal Choir, Nantyglo Comprehensive School (1975)

 

 



August 11, 2016

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St Mary’s and St Nicholas’ Church, Beaumaris (August 8, 2016)

9.00 am. Following a period of poor health and a few day’s respite in North Wales, I returned to my cellar’s anterooms to begin a process of iconoclasm — putting out of their misery those visual works that had been too greatly wounded by the ravages of damp air and mold. An act of uncreation, as it were. This is not a task for the sentimental. Heartless Harvey went into action. I needed, also, to create space in the rooms to accommodate audio performance boxes and stands that are presently cluttering the sound studio.

I came across a sketchbook entitled ‘Working Drawings Book 3’ (1981), one of three kept during my final year of BA (Hons) Fine Art studies. Within there’s a pair of thumbnail studies for a painting based on the theme of the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand, which is recorded in all four gospels. It took nearly twenty years before I found a way of realising the idea:

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5000 Series: Matthew (2000) multipart inkjet print, 71.25 × 142.5

I was merciless: ripping, scrunching, and deframing.  There’s now a stack of glazed box frames and a number of sheets of mdf, hardboard, and glass, as well as stretchers, that can be transported to the School for general use. (The materials had been paid for by various Arts Council and other grants over the years.)

After lunch, I made a swift trip to the School to deposit and (vainly retrieve) items. After which, my younger son and I shunted other items, now surplus to requirement, from the house to the garage. At the bottom of one box in the cellar I rediscovered the ‘family gun’:

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It had belonged to my great grandfather on my father’s side. George Harvey (1893–1919) was a police sergeant in the Abertillery Constabulary. So the story goes, he purchased the weapon in order to secure the arrest of an armed gang of thieves who were hiding out at the top of the Arael Mountain, on the west side of the town. His gun, which is now triggerless and ‘duffed’, will be deposited with a police museum in South Wales on my next visit:

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I adjusted my pace in the afternoon, digitally processing slides of work made for The Pictorial Bible I project.

Mid afternoon, the first NOISE PROJECTION was launched:

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This, I anticipate, will be the first in a series of specialised investigations into sound and something else leading up to a major conference that’ll follow on from The Noises of Art (2013).

Evening. I battled with the ‘gallery’ function in WordPress. The thumbnails aren’t aligning correctly. Professional advice may be necessary.

Some observations and principles derived from today’s activities:

  • No success worth its salt is secured without suffering and sacrifice.
  • Mastery in art is predicated on the artist’s mastery of themself.
  • Either you control your desires or your desires control you.
  • On abstinence: You’ll no longer miss what you’ve ceased to desire.
  • Organise your workspace, and your thoughts will follow suit.
  • One day you’ll have to relinquish everything, altogether. Better to start letting go of a few things now, under your control.
  • Give up teaching before it gives up you.

 

 

 

 

 



August 4, 2016

8.30 am. The publication or release of a new project generates a fair amount of admin: updates of my personal website, external research databases, CV, and so forth. I find it best to act on such matters at the moment of dissemination. (One should keep track of oneself.):

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Now that the CD of The Bible in Translation is in production, I have to consider how to promote the work. ‘Getting it out there’ may take as much creative imagination and time as making the work in the first place. And there’s no guarantee that anyone will be sufficiently interested to take the thing up. As an artist who works within an academic context, conferences provide an available platform for launching projects. Thus, generating several papers related to the major composition on the CD, Image and Inscription, is now the call of the day.

11.30 am. Off to School to conduct an MA Fine Art tutorial and attend an initiation into the new audio/visual system in the main lecture theatre:

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It’s complex but comprehensible. A huge improvement on the previous kit. I’ll need a few hours with it, alone, in order to plum the depth and breadth of its facility.

1.15 pm. At lunchtime, I attended a research conflab about future sound art projects with my colleague Dr Roberts, at Le Figaro:

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Afternoon. Back at homebase, I addressed the bilingual requirements of the CD’s cover design and several anomalous positionings on the booklet’s running heads (which only became apparent in pdf scroll mode. (Sigh!):

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Evening. I’m playing with the idea of two ‘front covers’: one English; one Welsh. This avoids the typographic clutter of running both together within the same typographic layout. The latter can lead to clumsy and inelegant results.

Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements and activities:

  • Act upon the implications of your work.
  • Envy no one. You may crave their gifts, graces, opportunities, and celebrity. But could you cope with them yourself?
  • What is presently impossible for you may be as clear a vision as any of where you should be heading.
  • Or else, what is presently impossible must remain so. For what you cannot do might be what you should not do.
  • We proceed from the possible to the impossible with hops and steps, rather than in a single bound.

 



August 3, 2016

8.45 am. WHIƎᖉᗄᗷᗷI⊥ (my alter ego) has emerged from his hole. But more from him on another occasion:

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Morning. I made final corrections to the booklet pages before finalising their pdfs. These will need to be combined by this evening. I decided to include the first and alternative version of the track Second Commandment on the bonus material album for The Bible in Translation. It was recorded live at the Department of Fine Art, University of Calgary, Canada on September 23, 2009. The performance was given at the close of a fifty minute lecture on The Pictorial Bible series. This was my first outing as a sound artist and one of the most nerve-racking enterprises I’ve ever engaged. The challenge was to move immediately from one mode of discourse (speaking) to another (playing), without any preparation for the latter. The other challenge in delivering the performance was that of transporting, mule-like, all my equipment across the Atlantic:

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‘A time to cast away’. From mid morning and through the afternoon, my elder son and I made an assault on a set of ante-chamber rooms leading to the domestic cellar, in a bid to rid the home of superfluities and redundancies and to reorganise my picture store.

Storying the physical residue of one’s work presents many problems. Few artists live in an archival environment or in accommodation with a storage room set apart for the purpose. I’ve used box frames for my paintings, often. They add up to a good deal of furniture. Would that I could repent of them:

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I’ve collected and catalogued my visual practice since I began my Foundation Studies in 1977. This is not because I’m either precious about my work or hold it in high regard. Rather, the works mark the phases of a gradual transition over time; they are like pages in a diary or the accumulated incidents in a life which together point and giving meaning to the present. It’s what I associate with the pieces as much as the things in themselves that make them valuable to me still:

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View from the Front Room Window (1978), pencil, 31 × 19 cm

Inevitably, ‘moth and rust doth corrupt’. Or, in this case, damp air and mold didst find their way into folios and even tight bubbled wrapped works. Some of the early pieces have deteriorated alarmingly. Mercifully, I’d had the presence of mind to photograph everything years ago. If the damage was significant; the work was destroyed. In the end, it’ll all dissolve. It’s all straw, cast into the wind.

Evening. I compiled the booklet and launched it on Academia:

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August 2, 2016

‘One misty, moisty morning’, as Maddy Prior of Steeleye Span sang:

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Drizzle grizzle!: This was fuzzy and diffused rain; more annoying and directionless than full-on precipitation. It gets under the umbrella, onto the specs, and into the clothes.

After a 9.00 am MA Fine Art tutorial at the School, I headed for the Old College for another:

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11.15 am. Into the Tardis and back to the mothership, where I engaged one of our PhD Fine Art students, who’s on the last lap of their project. Following lunch, I descended the stairs into the bowels of the School and the printmaking rooms for a further PhD Fine Art tutorial:

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The afternoon closed with a final MA Fine Art tutorial.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s pedagogical engagements:

  • It’s the realisations that we arrive at by ourselves which lever the the most important and lasting steps forward in our work.
  • Make time to reflect upon your work. Converse with it in solitude. There are things it wishes you to know.
  • Your tastefulness wears the cloak of an ally, but is, in practice, a subtle foe.
  • Inspiration may not be readily available. But application is always at hand and our command.
  • Be decisive, determined, and dedicated. Much else issues from these attitudes.
  • Letting others down is one thing; letting yourself down is quite another.
  • Let the work determine its own course. It may lead to somewhere better than you were heading.
  • Don’t despise an unproductive period in your work. It may be the matrix in which a major step forward in the future presently gestates.

Evening. I completed pdf-ing the final section of the booklet, while listening to my new copy of Public Image Ltd’s The Flowers of Romance (1981), which was released in the year that I graduated.



August 1, 2016

A curious dream that occurred between 4.00 am and 6.15 am. I was at a wake. A deceased middle-aged, slight, and dowdy woman in her late 50s sat in an armchair surrounded by friends and family. The small living room was in half light; illumined only by a naked, clear-glass, low-wattage bulb. The cadaver suddenly reanimated; but, now, possessed with someone else’s personality — that of a teenage boy who’d been a street dancer in life.

The days are settling into a new routine: an early morning run, a light breakfast, and a period of reflection before work begins:

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Morning. Having completed the booklet, I turned my attention to photographing those artworks from The Pictorial Bible III set that had no visual record. For this purpose, my bathroom was converted into a photographic studio. The room is completely white from ceiling to floor with balanced halogen illumination and blackout. It’s perfect.:

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Now this may seem like a very unprofessional approach. However, there’s a precedent. The legendary electric guitarist, Les Paul (1915–2009) — one of the pioneers of multi-track tape recording — and his wife, Mary Ford (1924–1977), laid down tracks in their bathroom, because it provided them with exactly the type of natural reverberation they was looking/listening for. I’m drawn to this idea of the domestic studio:

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Once the photographic process has been completed.  A number of the artworks will be set up on walls around the house. During the period in which the second and third projects in the trilogy were being made, I took down the works made for The Pictorial Bible I, so that they wouldn’t exert an undue influence over what was to come. Living in the perpetual presence of one’s earlier endeavours is problematic on a number of levels, in my experience. With sound works, you have to make a conscious effort to listen to them.

Afternoon. Just one more image to capture, and then the family can have the bathroom back. Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • Better, the follies of youth than the follies of maturity. Make your greatest and most embarrassing mistakes early on, if possible. The consequences of foolishness in later life can be ruinous for both yourself and others. And the scars may never heal.
  • Discipline in one area of life encourages discipline in other areas.
  • Your best at what you’ve most control over.
  • Anyone who makes something worthwhile has the obligation to conserve and account for it. We must each be our own archivist.
  • While nothing is beneath you, a great deal may still tower above.
  • One of the greatest regrets you’ll have at the end of your life is the time you wasted on yourself, distractions, indulgence, and unnecessities.
  • Reserve your fury for yourself.

On completion, I cropped and prepared the images and inserted them into the spaces prepared in booklet. Little adjustment to the tone, colour, and colour balance was needed.

Evening. So began the pdf-ing of the 78 pages of document artworks.

 



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