February 28, 2017

Shrove Tuesday

9.00 am: Against the wind, under the rain, to Old College to begin my day of MA and PhD Fine Art tutorials. Nevyana’s orderly array of exotically labelled paints:

Discussion: Some students need to be plugged into the mains (the tutor) because they don’t run on their own batteries. Teaching a class of thirty noisy and disruptive school children is a qualitatively different experience to teaching a class of thirty quiet and orderly ones. Thus, complexity and multiplicity may be either unwieldy or settled. Allow the student to talk and listen to themself. Develop a ‘language’ of form, but say something with it too. The worst experiences may bring out the best in us. I admire artists who do one thing exceedingly well. There’s nothing wrong with admiring your own work. (It’s not akin to looking at yourself in a mirror.) In time, your virtues will become your vices. The historical resonance of a process casts its period on the subject matter of the work. You can’t always have a good day in the studio; it wouldn’t be good for you. How will you upset the apple cart of your established practice? What did you do that you’re no longer doing? Why did you abandon it? Rehabilitate neglected interests and disciplines when you can’t see the way forward with your work. You are the magic; things don’t just happen. Rarely does a work fail totally. Therefore, diagnose its particular faults. What about all those ideas that you never returned to? Is determinacy the opposite of both indeterminacy and improvisation? Write a PhD anti-proposal outlining all the things you don’t know, can’t understand, misunderstand, fail to achieve, don’t want to do, and find irksome and dull. This is likely to be of more help to you in determining the way forward than some pie-in-the sky, idealistic, and over-ambitious manifesto. You can’t always make the best work that you’re capable of, but you must always try to be the best artist that you can be (MA and PhD Fine Art, tutorial notes from ‘The Black Notebook’ (February 28, 2017) 225–26).

10.15 am: Against the wind, under the rain, to the School of Art for a tutorial with one of Dr Webster’s charge. (I enjoy my discussions with photographers.) 12.00 pm: Back to my own ‘family’ of students for a further MA Fine Art tutorial. Students are at their most noble when dealing with, and learning from, inevitable failure and frustration.

2.00 pm: Off to the back of the School and the Edward Davies Laboratories for a further MA tutorial (followed by another in my office):

Science may no longer be taught at the laboratories, but experimentation continues unabated. Brigitte’s non-intentional landscape:

3.00 pm: A Skype tutorial with one of our distance-learning PhD Fine Art students. This mode of contact isn’t has immediate and intimate as a face-to-face confrontation. But it beats a telephone call:

4.00 pm: Against the wind, under the rain, to Old College to end my day with a final and one-hour long MA tutorial:

6.30 pm: Practise session 1. I put my new Effectrode Blackbird Pre-amp to the test. Glorious. 7.30 pm. An assault on my inbox, which had been dribbling mail alarmingly throughout the day.

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