January 31, 2018

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God (Philippians 4.6)

6.15 am: I awoke, with a heart of dark complexion that, in the past, I’ve associated with the anticipation of some great loss: a pre-grief, as it were. From whence do these shadows arise? 7.30 am: A communion. ‘Hey you! Don’t watch that. Watch this!’ was the memorable introduction to the song ‘One Step Beyond‘ (1979) by the British Ska band Madness. In the verse (above), the apostle Paul enjoins the same, essentially: redirect your attention away from the problem and towards the solution. The New Testament Greek for ‘anxious’ (μεριμνάω) means to be ‘distracted’, ‘over-careful’, or ‘to go to pieces’. We’ve all experienced those feelings too many times in our lives already in response to, for example, overwhelming circumstances, disturbing concerns, chronic illness, the possibility that our basic human needs (physical, emotional, and spiritual) may not be met, and the fear of failure. This list is almost endless. Paul’s encouragement is comprehensive in its scope: there’s ‘nothing’ about which you need remain anxious (no exemptions), and ‘everything’ that distresses you can be directed to God (no exclusions). But the means by, and attitude in, which you do so is crucial: ‘by prayer’, ‘supplication’ (earnest and humble asking), and ‘thanksgiving’ (for the good ‘stuff’ in your life, and because he’s willing to listen and act on your behalf). Of course, he knows your needs before you ask; but he still wants you to tell him about them. Because God seeks a relationship.

8.30 am: Off to School against a gathering wind to begin the first of this application round’s Visiting Days. ‘I want to be a professional artist, and I know the field is competitive. But I’m willing to work very hard’, the applicant replied. Music to my ears. Someone with that approach to study is likely to succeed. I place considerable emphasis on the applicant’s work ethic. It’s evident in not only the portfolio but also an attitude. That attitude cannot be taught; it’s arrived at independently and internally, and often in that moment when they catch a vision of themselves and what they may do with their lives. Today, I’ve talked (entered into a dialogue) with applicants for undergraduate schemes on the one side of the School and the PhD schemes, on the other. In the end, I want to be sure that the School of Art is the most appropriate place for them, and that they are the most suitable student for it. While achieving the departmental quota for admissions is important, the future happiness and development of the applicant is pre-eminent:

Applicants at this stage in their education really don’t know what they’re capable of. Today, I’ve been genuinely impressed by their presentation. And it’s heartening to hear that they benefit from the solid support of their A-level and foundation studies tutors. In between and around interviews I chopped down the height of my ‘unread’ mail stack and made preparations for future postgraduate interviews:

1.45 pm: The day has turned from sullen to resplendent and back again. When the sun shines, the spirits lift and the building is at its best:

On with postgraduate admin. 4.30 pm: A pep talk for the undergraduate Exhibition 1 and 2 tutees. Start as you mean to go on. I ended the day with a pastoral tutorial.

6.30 pm: Teaching admin: uploads, emails, sound file transfer, and curriculum distribution. 7.00 pm: On with the sound composition. I began working from both the beginning and the end inwards to the centre of the composition – as I might in a certain type of painting. I also imposed a time limit on the piece: 2 minutes. Thus, all permutations and explorations of the ideas had to take place within that frame. The effect was that of tightening the whole, even though none of the internal parts had been changed. Quite remarkable. For the remainder of the evening, I micro-adjusted the sample alignments therein:

Some Observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • Learn to act against the dictates of the heart and self-interest.
  • Follow your passion; its most likely to be the thing in which you achieve success.
  • You may discredit yourself by trying to live up to other people’s expectations.
  • Parents and teachers can be wise and necessary counsellors, but its only you, in the end, that can make the choices and decision that affect your future.
  • Be prepared to receive as good as you give when you confront a dynamic student as a teacher.
  • Choice words delivered in season with love. My aspiration for the ideal pastoral tutorial.


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