May 23, 2018

7.00 am: A communion. Life is short, how ever many years we’re given. I think about those of my own age who have cast off from this world too soon. This day is at hand. I’m not promised another. Therefore, I’ll live it as though it could be my last. 7.30 am: Admin was completed in advance of the next three days’ assessments. 8.30 am: Off to School and into what promised to be a sunny and warm day for West Wales. I picked up my usual yoghurt, granola, and fruit lunch en route:

On arrival at my office, I sniffed the air. It had been cleaned and polished. Wonderful! Today, Dr Forster and I began assessing the undergraduate exhibition modules, in situ. While the show represents an end-stop to the students’ experience, in the broader scheme of things it’ll be, for some, only a staging point upon a much longer journey through postgraduate study and beyond. Nevertheless, for all, it’s a sober moment: the end of an era:

The assessment is not an inquisition; rather, it’s a discussion and a collective evaluation. If the student feels wrong-footed, then they’ll not give of their best. The aim is to arrive at an understanding (and a potential mark) that’s fair, persuasive, and defensible. The timetable for assessments extended into the afternoon.

3.00 pm: Professor Meyrick and I assessed a presentation by Professor Batt (in her new manifestation as an MA fine artist) about an artist whose work she has been helping to catalogue. 3.30 pm: Afterwards, I returned to report writing:

In between tasks, I sloped off to see the Sea Change exhibition in the single gallery:

Sea Change is a student-curated exhibition of prints, paintings, photographs and ceramics from the School of Art collection.  The exhibition borrows for its title a phrase from Shakespeare’s Tempest to explore its metaphorical potential.

7.30 pm: Back to assessment write ups and mark compilation. Due to my professional commitments, I wasn’t able to attend Mary Read’s funeral at Holy Trinity Church this afternoon. She’d spent the last few years of her life in a home. When I first met her, in 2004, we didn’t hit it off at all. However, as soon as we realised that each could bear the most acerbic jibes and insults that the other could offer, we were, and remained, great pals. She was a formidable woman on the outside, but like a marshmallow inside:

Some observations and principles derived from today’s engagements and reflections:

  • It’s not always helpful to have considerable facility over a broad range of mediums and technical processes. Students of limited means have a tendency to do more with them.
  • If you’re not making art first and foremost for yourself, out of a need to discern the shape of your own soul and to feed a hunger that nothing else will satisfy, then you’re likely to give it up in the future.
  • Making art may be the only thing that can keep you sane and grounded.
  • And above all else … integrity.
  • Intuition and natural ability will only get you so far. In order to grow, you must acquire craft, a capacity for consistent hard work, a reasoned grasp of your intent, and a criteria by which to assess the quality of the work.
  • The world is filled with good all-rounders. Therefore, if  you wish to stand out from the crowd, aim to excel in a few things only.
  • You’re never to old to reinvent yourself and try something new. (You might discover that you’re very good at it.)

Why does the sound of a motorbike drawling into the distance always fill me with a momentary melancholy, followed by a paralysing feeling of aloneness. At some time in my life, long ago, a powerful association has been forged between the phenomenon and the feeling.


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