Sunday. A restless, spiritually feverish, night. Turbulent, long, and heartfelt prayers, large and unresolved questions, but much gratitude. Where do the answers lie? In what ways will they manifest themselves? (Will it be, as it has always been for me, in the slow and steady fall of a settled conviction over time?) How does one escape the prejudicial perspectives of strong emotion and desire? Can feelings and intuition be as certain an expression of the truth, and indication of the right course of action, as thoughts and reason? I woke at 1.30 am. No snow … yet. Ideas about sound works and performance scenarios proliferated in my head. (‘How do y0u switch this darned thing off?’) Most would be forgotten by the morning. On waking – a light snow had fallen; was still falling – I remembered a dream in which I’d explained the metaphorical significance of on-screen deletion to a friend. (‘Honestly, John!’)
For months, I’ve sensed that ‘something is up’ – a matter of import, but without definition presently. There’r changes to come. (Whether to endure or to enjoy, I don’t know.) It’s as though the fabric of my existence is altering, subtlety. This, for me, is an unprecedented experience. I’m seeing something for the first time; something hidden or previously unfocussed: a truth about myself that has always been there and, perhaps, obvious to others. Ideas and opportunities are consolidating. A confidence arises. In the realms of my practice and research, I’m able to grasp things with greater clarity. My mind is being reconfigured and readied. My heart and soul have been tilled, ploughed, and winnowed already. These are the fruits of a long and painful labour.
9.30 am: The trains to Birmingham were unaffected by the moderate downturn in the weather. At Machynlleth there was what must have been 2 inches of unimpacted snow:
Welshpool: snow – like airbourne talcum powder.
My policy is not to do academic work on a Sunday, if possible. (I’m not a Sabbatarian, but I do believe in the wisdom of taking a God-given day of rest.) Nevertheless, this was an ideal opportunity to review student submissions and cull my inbox. My weakness arrived. I succumbed too readily. (‘Oh! Buddy’).
I can’t be the only train traveller who’s paranoid about the security of the ‘door lock’ on automatic toilets. The journey was without delay or drama. 2.15 pm: London. From Euston to Brixton and my stable for the next few nights:
The room is identical in orientation and design (down to the appalling pictures) to the one I’d left behind in Sheffield two weeks ago:
Having unpacked, I explored the town and located the memorial to David Bowie, which was painted a few days after he’d died, in 2016. It’s a form of socially-sanctioned graffiti. Woe betide any council that would seek to expunge it:
3.30 pm: On, via Oxford Street, to The Tate Modern to see the Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy exhibition with my elder son. From the Millennium Bridge, the city looked like a monochrome Monet through the snow fall:
I’d written my undergraduate dissertation on Picasso. I admire rather than love his work. I appreciate rather than learn from it. He was a consummate artist. But Braque was a better painter and Matisse, a more accomplished colourist, in my opinion.
Nevertheless, what Picasso achieved in one year, 1932, was quite astonishing. I counted several masterpieces on the walls, among works that were mediocre, failed, but all moving towards something of gravitas and significance. That twelve month was a preparatory workout for his tour de force, Guernica (1937). The exhibition highlighted his extra-marital relationship with Marie-Therese Walter. She was his lover and muse – the source of erotic and aesthetic energy that drove him through one of the most productive a critical periods of his artistic career.
To close the evening, we ate a Japanese restaurant near Covent Garden. I chose a Chicken Teriyaki Bento: a modular, kit meal: