May 16, 2018

6.00 am: I awoke. 7.00 am: A communion. 7.45 am: I wrote up my assessment of the final Vocational Practice presentation (submitted by, what in the halcyon days of the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth might have been termed, ‘Alternative Regulations’). The Chieftains’ Mná na hÉireann played in the background. I’d first heard this on the sound track to Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975).

8.30 am: Off to School. A desultory sort of day; apathetic in its own way:

Not long after I arrived, an accident took place on the premises. An ambulance was called. It was bad enough, but it could have been far worse. We each live on the knife edge of disaster. I recalled slipping and bumping my head on the walkway to a jacuzzi (not something that I’ve indulged since), while on a cruise of the Norwegian fjords some years ago. I wasn’t concussed. However, I formed no memory of the interval between the time of the incident and the ship’s doctor reviewing my injuries back at my cabin. I’d suffered temporary amnesia. Fascinating, if disorientating:

9.30 am: The postgraduate monitoring material and instructions posted, I returned to my perambulations of the studios. The pattern today would be this plus marking and report writing in alternation – a chequerboard sort of day. It’s a pleasure to write supportive reports for genuinely hardworking and conspicuously gifted PhD students.

A lunchtime meeting with Dr Forster at the Town Committee Chambers. 2.00 pm: Back on the studio floor, things were hotting up. I’m seeing connections between the work of different painting students that weren’t evident when it was being made. Evidently, the students had rubbed off on one another, unconsciously. That’s a healthy sign. It implies that they’re open to influence at the deepest level. The quality of their colour control is particularly conspicuous this year.

It was heartening to hear that our morning’s casualty was back in action so soon. 4.00 pm: Final consultations between Dr Forster and her tutees:

7.30 pm: I returned to the Postgraduate reports, which I’d been working on throughout the afternoon in between exhibition consultations.

Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements:

  • Crises bring out the best in the best of people.
  • A teacher’s dedication to their students is seen most conspicuously in their commitment to see them through failure and disappointment, and onwards towards success and fulfilment.
  • In relation to the object before you, ask: What must I draw? And … What should I not draw? These are reciprocal choices of equal importance.
  • The art that we make cannot be other than a manifestation of who we are: our standards, predilections, passions, thoughts, understanding, temperament, emotions, world view, determinations, ambitions, and facility. That’s its glory and betrayal.
  • It’s relatively straightforward to produce small, immediate, and appealing works of a sufficient resolution. However, maturity lies in being able to spend a long time on a single work (regardless of scale), labouring with it, restating and refining an idea over and over again, until the work achieves maximum resolution, and a degree of psychological and aesthetic depth that’s impossible to reach using more immediate processes.
  • Your exhibition space is not to be filled but, rather, articulated.
  • You have to do it in order to know it. You have to know it in order to do it.
  • Your professionalism should be evident not only in your work but also in everything you say about it: to friends and family, on your social media and website, in seriousness and good humour, formally and informally. How you regard your work and identity as an artist will have a considerable influence on your audience’s respect for the same.





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