May 1, 2018

6.00 am: I set aside the morning to reflect upon matters that had arisen over the past few days. There are challenges ahead that I feel, not so much ill-prepared as, unworthy to face. I’ve the capacity but not the justification; the willingness but not the eligibility; the availability but not the call. ‘Weighed in the balance and found wanting’, as it were.

Before shuffling off to work, I played Tom Wait’s heartfelt and idiosyncratic rendering of Leonard Bernstein’s and Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Somewhere‘, from Westside Story (1961). It’s a song that speaks of a hopeful certainty, better days, and new beginnings. Its significance for me has changed as I’ve grown older; my heart, evolved; my circumstances, changed; and my sense of self, crystallised. ‘A time and a place’: neither one without the other. And they must be coincident and congruent: neither at the right time in the wrong place nor at the wrong time in the right place. And if there is such ‘a time and a place’, then, it will surely come, when and where it’s decreed from above.

8.20 am: Off to School, picked up a light lunch in town (now very consciously looking at the architecture above shop level), and walked Plas Crug Avenue:


My 9.00 am Skype tutorial was scuppered by a defective connection both sides. We’ll try again on Friday. I’d time to walk to the rear of the window deposit rubbish in the skip. And when I looked up, I saw, and said: ‘Sometimes heaven breaks through!’:

9.50 am: A second interview with a student wishing to transfer into our second year from another institution. An impressive declaration of competence, hard work, and passion on all fronts:

11.00 am: A late MA inquirer. As I’ve no doubt said this before: the intention of these informal discussions is not to persuade the potential applicant that they ought to come to the School. I want them to go to whatever art department best serves their vision. 12.00 pm: I held a PhD Fine Art tutorial in my capacity as second supervisor. The endeavour on this occasion, one of the most difficult of the entire degree, was to refine the proposal (the research question) that will steer this mighty ship into harbour. In the course of the discussion, this was brought to my attention:

It’s a pencil designed for those living with challenges such as dyslexia and arthritis. However, it’s also the perfect candidate for a contact microphone attachment. (Does it come in black?)

There was too little time to return home for lunch, so I ate at my yogurt and container of fresh fruit at my desk, while picking away at emails, updating my ‘to do’ lists, and pondering a new purchase. 2.00 pm: the beginning of a full afternoon of MA Fine Art tutorials at the School and Old College:

7.30 pm: There was a glut of postgraduate admin to face down. Afterwards, I experimented with a new hand-held digital recorder and a range of external microphones. I need to obtain a better quality capture of tomorrow’s PhD Fine Art seminar.

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • Sometimes, we learn intuitively; but it takes awhile for the bubbles of knowing to come to the surface.
  • It’s possible to sense whether a potential student will succeed just by talking to them … just by being in their presence. Those that will, exude a sense of drive, commitment, self-awareness, and clarity of purpose, without which any achievement worth talking about would not be possible.
  • Some people appear to have lived multiple lives simultaneously. The breadth of their attainment and contribution to the betterment of others is staggering.
  • Only the best students seem to lack confidence, Poorer ones are completely oblivious to their deficits.
  • The ground work for art is life lived.
  • So often, one must tread the thin line between hopefulness and despair.
  • Avoid overburdening an artwork with too much content or significance. It’ll collapse under the strain.
  • In relation to some problems in your life, you may feel as though you’re waiting for a very long time at a red traffic light, desperate for it to move to amber.
  • Even before your finish the first step in the work, the second beckons.
  • Work that we admire by other artists may help us to see aspects of our own that would otherwise remain undisclosed.
  • Perhaps history can teach us more than geography. I’ve often found that travelling back in time (through art and books) is of greater lasting value than visiting distant places for a brief season only.
  • Knowledge worth knowing changes our awareness.
  • You may be able to get individual works ‘sing’, yet fail to make them perform as a choir.
  • A scale of soft to ultrasoft.




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