January 19, 2017

8.15 am: Trust for the past, too. 9.00 am: Admin generated by last night’s efforts needed to be collated and dispatched before I could settle, for an hour, to the article again. When the parcel of time available is small, I concentrate on resolving a few tricky or otherwise unsatisfactory sentences.

The morning’s partial light and the eventless sullen, grey tarpaulin of the sky reflect the spirit of the nation, presently. On the human plane, it’s hard to be up beat. What are the consolations of art in this situation? What can art contribute to this situation? Art is at least as important as politics, was Clement Greenberg‘s opinion. Perhaps we should start believing that.

10.15 am: Into the winter’s glower and on to the School for the morning’s line up of second year painters, printmakers, and photographers. Two of our MA Vocational Practice students attended as part of their teaching observation commitment.

2.00 pm: After a late lunch, a period of email catchup and respite, I re-engaged my article. There’s still too much that’s ill-considered, elliptical, and poorly expressed. The clarity of a writer’s articulacy is always in direct relation to the perspicuity of their understanding. (Fuzzy thinking = fuzzy writing, in other words.)

5.10 pm: 1982. I was one month into my MA Visual Art degree:

Work on the drawing was painfully slow. I spent hours undoing the previous day’s work … The bursts of sunlight that illuminate the leaden grey sea are both a distraction and a glory to behold. There are many possible ideas for paintings passing in and out of existence from one moment to the next. I hope my efforts won’t be frustrated by a hard winter (Constitution Hill, Aberystwyth, Diary > October 7, 1982).

6.15 pm: Practise session 1. 7.15 pm: On with a write-up of this morning’s second year Painting assessments. A feedback form is composed for each student, with indications of their strengths and weaknesses across a range of categories and a narrative that fleshes-out and humanises their performance overall, for better or worse. In this sense, the forms are both critical and diagnostic. As a tutor, you should always prescribe a cure for their malaise. Whether they take their medicine … well, that’s another matter. There was time at the close of the evening to eke out of my creakier sentences sharper clarity.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • A student’s performance is measured against two axes: the aptitudinal and the attitudinal.
  • A disinclination to work is harder to remedy than a lack of ability.
  • Our progress in work and our understanding of such may not occur simultaneously.
  • Sometimes, as an assessor, one must search for diamonds amid the coal dust.
  • Follow the path of your ability rather than that of your inclination. They may not always be the same, alas.
  • Some students see through feeling rather more than they do through looking.
  • Better cack-handed poetry than arid dexterity.
  • Don’t aim to do something that’s different; rather, aim to do something that’s honest.