August 9, 2018

There are events in my life that I don’t understand. But I’ve learned to accept them for what they are, and to be grateful for the joys and consolations that they brought with them.

8.00 am: A communion. 8.45 am: Off to School to begin a day of teaching and consultations. 9.15 am: I dealt with the physical post, email, and admin. Always tackle the most unsavoury messages first. Things can only get better after that:

9.40 am: Off to the Old College for a PhD Fine Art tutorial, and a lovely cup of tea and some fruit from a student who always exhibits exemplary hospitality. (A Lidl’s kiwi on this occasion. Quality stuff.)

The council workers were out in force, repainting the road markings on Terrace Road. I adore the sumptuousness of the thick and densely coloured paint, poured on hot and steaming, and cooling and drying in minutes. Painting as process:

The tidiness and orderliness of the artist’s studio reflects the values and preoccupations of the work produced therein:

Some of the MA students are still on vacation. So I made the most of their absence, and secreted myself away in order to deal with further incoming mail. 12.00 am: Back to the School to attend to admin, before a lunchtime meeting with the School’s subject representative from the university library. We righted the educational world.

2.00 pm: Further catch up, followed by an MA inquirer’s consultation at my local watering hole:

4.00 pm: Two further MA tutorials at the Old College:

7.30 pm: After a day discussing the work of others, I was desperate to get back to my own. I reviewed yesterday’s insertions. I’m unsure about the beginning – not the components but, rather, their organisation. Too self conscious and deliberate, perhaps. (One for the ‘morrow.) Several of the turntable samples were dropped into the mix, just to see how they’d either stand out or integrate:

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • A failure of confidence can beset an artist at any point in their career. No amount of prior success, experience, facility, and encouragement from others can offset it. This sense of unworthiness will pass eventually, just as surely as it will return again one day.
  • The best students that I’ve ever taught, like the best professional artists, have the most mature critical capacity. They’re able to discern the problems and the principles underlying their work, devise imaginative solutions, and work long and intelligently to apply them. The work that they exhibit is never slick and quick, easy, or vapid.
  • Working hard and working well aren’t synonymous. You can work hard – put in many hours and slog by the sweat of your brow – without achieving anything of worth. This may be because it’s undertaken uncritically, unadvisedly, and without either sufficient preparation or adequate competence. Working well implies a strategic, intelligent, and cognitive approach to conception and production. Allied to a capacity for hard work, a student possessed with these aptitudes can move mountains.
  • It’s not the praise you receive that matters most but, rather, the one who is giving it. The integrity and usefulness of professional acclamation rests upon the wisdom, experience, status, and honesty of the critic. FaceBook ‘likes’ and Instagram ‘love hearts’ will tend to flatter rather than illuminate you.
  • What’s needed is a philosophy of university education. Students should be encouraged to see the interconnectedness of disciplines and subjects. A library is the hub of a university in this respect. Through its books, journals, and on-line provision, you can experience the whole of academia.
  • Expect university to be, on the one hand, hard, harsh, demanding, frustrating, bewildering, and tirering, and, on the other hand, rewarding, challenging, fulfilling, enabling, fascinating, and elevating. Those hands must be clasped together.

An evening passed to the west:




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August 8, 2018
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