8.00 am: A communion. 9.00 am: The beginning of third year painting assessments with Dr Forster. Some of our MA Vocational Practice students were in attendance as observers. This is an enhancement exercise, to induct them into the practical applications of the methods and criteria of assessment to which they’d been introduced in theory in class:
The MA observers, all of whom were in the assessee’s shoes this time last year, contributed astute, mature, balanced, and justifiable advice to those under scrutiny. Many of the questions that they posed will no doubt rebound on them. We learn by teaching. Elevenses:
There’s been a growth of interest in abstraction among the students over the past few years. Each generation has to redefine this process in such a way as to extend beyond the achievement of its predecessors. Every time it returns to the centre ground of art (which it appears to be doing, in a modest way), abstraction’s complexion is a little different, having either absorbed, reacted to, or rejected other styles of art that have emerged since its last appearance. By this means, it remains contemporary and combative:
2.30 pm: A conclusion. Home for a late lunch eaten over the computer. The reports of the morning’s engagements needed to be written up. The process continued into the evening, amid responses to a backlog of emails. Some Henry Cow in the background.
On this day, ten years ago, I wrote in my diary: ‘I feel fudged and smudged’. At the time, I was experiencing a bout of ME that matched my present experience. Thirty years ago today, I acknowledged: ‘I’m at the heart of the thesis’. I was currently undertaking a PhD in Art history. At the heart, I discovered an idea that has served as one of the mainsprings of my endeavours in art history and art practice ever since. Throughout my doctoral studies (1986–90), I maintained the disciplines of drawing and small-scale painting. The artworks dealt with some of the themes – such as chapels, the south Wales valleys, and religious visions – that I was exploring in my thesis:
Angel and Devil Fighting Over Llanhilleth, pencil on paper, 8 × 6.4 (1989)
Some principles and observations derived from today’s assessment tutorials:
- Don’t make assumptions about what you aren’t capable of doing.
- Ask much of yourself.
- Natural talent is never enough, and certainly not something that you can be proud of. It’s a given.
- Art sometimes necessitates a troubled spirit.
- Acquire only the skills that you’re able to deploy.
- You must find not only a subject but also yourself in relation to that subject.
- Don’t aim for either greatness or originality. If these attributes are to be yours, then they’ll come as the consequence of hard, thoughtful, conscientious, and consistent work over much time.
- Somethings you do are worthy but not necessary.
- The tradition of the subject should be subsumed within the personality of the artist, and not the other way around.
- Take one idea and explore its permutations.
- Don’t chase marks. Instead, pursue quality, integrity, and authenticity.
- So far, you know what you’re doing. Now, seek to know what you don’t know.
- Do as much as you can with as little as you can.
- Don’t be over concerned about the shape and content of the final exhibition; all you can do is the next painting. And that is enough.
- Stay funky!
- There’s the painting of something, and there’s the painting as something.
- Buzz words of the day, beginning with ‘D’: direction, discernment, determination, dedication, decisiveness, and dutiful.
- Never give up on anyone. People can prove to be outstanding in the end.
- Who a student was, is, and will be may bear no resemblance to one another.
- Some students’ work makes me want to paint.
- Class distinctions in relation to a sense of direction: 2.1 (Feeling towards it); 1st (Found it).