January 18, 2017

8.15 am: Confession; contrition; consolation. 9.00 am: Forgiveness; fortitude; focus. I dedicated the morning to the article. The objective was to prune and polish (to mix metaphors) what had already been composed and will be retained in the final submission. Thereafter, I’ll add any further material that is presently conspicuously absent. (Playing in the background: Laurie Speigel’s The Expanding Universe (1980).) I sometimes find it hard to determine which tense I should use to write about personal work. There’s a conflict between having made it (in the past) and the endurance of the same (in the present). Context usually decides the matter.

11.00 am: 1984:

In the far distance of a photograph taken by my father — in which my mother and I were posed, arm in arm, standing on the Promenade, Aberystwyth — two women, both dressed in blue coats, walked towards us. They past us, unnoticed. This was thirty three years ago. In all likelihood, both have now passed in a more profound sense. As, too, the photographer, my companion, and the bandstand for sure.

1.00 pm: I took a swift lunch, so that I could get to the School in time to set up the seminar room for this afternoon’s tranche of Research and Process in Practice presentations, which Dr Forster and I would be assessing.

1.30 pm: En route; on Trinity Road:

I noticed this plaque only recently. It resonates with some of the concerns touched upon by the next Aural Bible project. Is this, then, a sign? Evidently, yes!

2.00 pm: Kick off!

Eastern European students see and represent Aberystwyth through the filter of an entirely different sensibility than that possessed by locals. They transform the town and its environs to such an extent that, in some of examples of their work, you’d hardly recognise it. Fascinating! ‘I was always a step behind my work’, spoke one student. What an elegant and simple expression of a discomforting realisation many of them experience, particularly in their first and second year. ‘What! You mean to say there are no pickled eggs available in Poland?’, I exclaimed, at the close of one photographer’s presentation. Both Polish students present confirmed this bleak reality. A marketing opportunity presented itself. One of the most touching and impressive aspects of this afternoon’s proceedings were the students’ testimonies to, variously, a growth in confidence, the development of a mature self-awareness, and their victory over insuperable personal odds, during the past two years … all with the aid of art. While art should not be made for therapy, it can be therapeutic. The creative process is a powerful medicine for self repair. Art won’t meet all the soul’s needs, but it can fulfil some.

7.30 pm: Reports on the afternoon’s presentations needed to be written up. (In the background: Scott Walker’s Scott 4 (1969).) There’s something deeply consoling and evocative about lush, 60s-style string arrangements: oceanic … like a mother’s caress. There’s a quote on the album cover that’s attributed to the philosopher Albert Camus: ‘a man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened’. I believe that.