December 10, 2014

6.00 am. Another earlier than anticipated rise. My waking dream was of an absolute whiteness in which I was incarcerated, wholly alone, and suffocating. (The nightmare of Modernist purism, perhaps). I used the time before breakfast to complete the Art/Sound PowerPoint and lecture text.

9.30 am. A Research Excellence Framework Monitoring meeting at the Visualization Centre: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29.18):

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1.00 pm. A School of Art Management Committee meeting until 4.00 pm, focussing upon a cull and rationalization of our art history provision. I’ll be sad to relinquish several modules which I’ve taught for several decades. But in order to build afresh, the old edifices must be pulled down and the land cleared. 4.30 pm. A visit to A&E at the hospital to upgrade my bandages:

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6.30 pm. Shocking news: Martin Herbert passed away suddenly and unexpectedly last night. He was an MA Fine Art student at the School of Art, Aberystwyth University. And this, following so soon upon the heels of Steve’s departure: ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions’ (Hamlet):

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I’d barely got to know him before he was taken from us. Our first encounter was at The Noises of Art conference, held at Aberystwyth Arts Centre, in September 2013. It was there and then that he determined to apply for the MA Fine Art scheme at the School of Art. I was excited at the anticipation of his contribution to the scheme, and what it might, in turn, enable him to realize. We met for an interview in the December of that year. Soon after, he was signed up.

I was impressed by Martin’s conscientious commitment to the craft and conceptualization of his work. He brought to his studies a rare, practical intelligence and patience, one that demonstrated a fierce integrity of commitment. Martin allied his considerable technical dexterities to a well-defined, art-historical sensibility, a sense of the tradition of ideas, and a solid understanding of his relationship to contemporary art. Furthermore, he had the ability to interrelate manual and digital modes of imagining and imaging, which offered the prospect of intriguing fusions and intermedial experimentations. Like the very best ‘Renaissance men’, he lived in both the past and in the present, and anticipated the future — without tension, compromise, or timidity. Martin was clearly an artist who’d make a significant impression on his field.

He was also an affable and serious-minded gentleman (in the fullest sense of that term) who, while somewhat older than the majority of this year’s MA students, had a heart that matched their youth. Martin was such a good exemplar to set before them; a paragon of sober, passionate, and joy-filled professionalism. I had so much to say to him; so much to learn from him.

7.00 pm. The trivialities of life and work proceed, regardless.

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