March 24, 2015

8.00 am. On with the WAC report before battling with the School photocopier. The problem (I think) is caused by a mismatch between the Mac Yosemite iOS and the printer’s driver. Will Mac, the printer manufacturer, or the university’s Information Services facility be the first to respond to the problem?

In the ‘old days’, the vacation period was a time for moving into second gear. These days, one stays in first and pushes the accelerator pedal to the floor in the drive to enhance one’s research reach. A periodically wet, dirty, and cold day:

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11.30 am. On with question 3: ‘Please tell us what your project contributed to the arts in Wales. Please describe and evaluate the impact your project had on the people of Wales’. The self-deluded have no problem responding to these requests.  However, a sober man is reserved and circumspect in his evaluation. Draft 1:

Prof. Mary Lloyd-Jones remarked, at the exhibition’s Opening, that she knew of no other artist in Wales working in the area represented by the work. I concur with that observation. The reason, in part, is due to Welsh society’s secularisation and its historic drift from the particularly Christian consensus that prevailed up until the first-world war. Neither the public nor artists possess a familiarity with other than the most notable biblical stories. For all intents and purposes, the Judaeo-Christian text is as remote from everyday life as Greco-Roman mythology, today. Consequently, few artists have a knowledge of the scriptures sufficient to deploy them meaningfully as the basis of artworks.

In this respect, the project represents the recovery of a significant aspect of the nation’s heritage that, even in Welsh art during the nineteenth century, was at best a secondary commitment; artists were, for the most part, more interested in depictions of the industry, folklore, history, and mythology of the country. At the close of nineteenth century, during a period of cultural as well as religious revival, one of the prognostications regarding the future of Welsh art is that would be a religious art. In particular, it would be the visual corollary of Wales’ tradition of preaching (which was thoroughly grounded in biblical exposition). Thus, at the beginning of the twenty first century, the project (inadvertently) fulfils an agenda that was not realised in the last. In so doing, the project reinvigorates the ‘old wine’ of a moribund artistic subject matter, and re-presents it in the ‘new wineskin’ of contemporary art forms and media.

The project is, presently, too immediate and too localized to have any significant and broad impact within or outside of Wales. Any claim to the contrary would be an expression of unsubstantiable hubris. On the basis on the Visitors’ Book comments, however, one can discern certain trends in the public’s response to, or reception of, the works. (Technically, impact can only be measured in terms of artwork’s capacity to bring about a change in the public – be that of attitude, mind, or action.) Several distinct trends of appreciation are recorded in respect to:

  1. a new integration of religion and art;
  2. the care evident in the execution of the works, the organization of the show, and the sound installation;
  3. the intellectual challenge posed by the works;
  4. the rigour of sound work’s conceptual underpinning and creative quality;
  5. challenging new perspectives on biblical interpretation presented in the works;
  6. the emotional intensity of the collective work (which I never envisaged);
  7. the level of mental, visual, and emotional engagement engendered by the totality of the works;
  8. the helpfulness of the information on individual works provided at the exhibition (on laminated sheets and via QR codes).

A number of visitors that I’d engaged had returned to the exhibition on several occasions and spent a good deal of time there. While this sample is undeniably small, it may nevertheless be indicative of a prospective broader response. Personally, I was struck by the exhibition’s ability to transcend age, background, and experience. Young and old people, some with a knowledge of art and others without, were in attendance and appeared to engage similarly.

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12.30 pm. An early lunch before a walk to IBERS to deliver my contribution at the Graduate School Research Writing Week:

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I held two workshops (both of which could have benefited from an additional half an hour), the first on ‘Writing a Conference Paper’, and the second on  ‘Critical Reflection in Practice-Based Research’. The latter generated a great deal of lively, thoughtful, and intelligent interaction. I learned more than I taught.

On the ‘white board’: the fossils of erased thoughts:

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4.00 pm. Back at home base, I dealt with incoming emails, uploaded the afternoon’s documents to Blackboard and, afterwards, returned to the WAC report.

6.20 pm Practice session 1: improvisation within 4-fret block. 7.30 pm. I completed the penultimate question and began the final one. I’m providing more information than is required by the WAC report, but as much as I need to form an initial evaluation of the project for myself. (I’m listening to Philip Glass’ Einstein on the Beach.) 9.40 pm Practice session 2.

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