May 25, 2017

8.30 am: Off to work. This is the warmest morning of the year so far. The School was still and melancholy. I could hear the ticking of the clock in my office against the silence. It was consoling and evocative. The sound reminded me of childhood reveries I indulged in the upper lounge of my maternal grandparents’ house at Blaina. (They’d a large mantlepiece clock; all wood and brass, with a hinged glass front and spindly hands.) Time passing, acoustically. 9.20 am: I joined Dr Forster on the studio floor to conduct a viva voce with each of the exhibiting painters. This is the final conversation that we’ll have with many of them:

Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:

  • Refinement can sometimes undo a work.
  • There’s a great difference between self-centredness and self-reflection.
  • When you don’t consult the work of established and qualitative artists, it shows in your own.
  • A lack of confidence rather than a lack of facility may be your most conspicuous weakness.
  • At some juncture, you’ll have to forsake your heroes. Otherwise you’ll lose yourself in, and become a third-rate copy of, them.
  • A student whose father recorded birdsong around the moment they were born.
  • Enjoy the peace after the battle.
  • Find the palette in the process of painting.
  • There’s the painting and there’s painting. Don’t confuse them.
  • What people say about your work at the Opening is irrelevant on one level. Neither positive nor negative comments necessarily reflect justifiable value judgements or an informed opinion. They are merely the expression of enthusiasm or disgruntlement.
  • Over production can be a compensatory response to an inability to resolve a few things thoroughly.
  • Art is fundamentally a beneficent force — gentle, encouraging, and supportive.
  • The best students are often those who’re most critical of their own work.
  • Art must feed on something outside of itself in order to grow.
  • The student’s intellectual grasp of their practical work is confirmed by the quality of their Research and Process in Practice essay. These two outcomes are never contradictory.

2.20 pm: Dr Forster and I enjoyed a meeting at the town committee rooms. (For the record, she took the minutes on this occasion.) 3.10 pm: Back at homebase, I finalised the morning’s provisional marks and began writing up feedback reports. Crows are attacking the houses’ windows from their perch on the scaffolding. (I’ve watched Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963); I know can what happen next. But have, and do, they?)

6.00 am: The Opening of Julian Ruddock’s PhD Fine Art exhibition 2A Earth Core: The Hominin Project. Mr Ruddock made an opening speech:

The ‘room of doom’:

This was now like a set from David Lynch’s latest endeavour:

What a magnificent example of Sci/Art collaboration — one in which public impact is a natural expression of the project’s essence, rather than some spurious and fatuous add-on. The public, for their part, received a respectful blow to the jaw … which they appreciated. The works are not scientific illustrations. Rather, they’re visual metaphors for a climatic calamity in the making.

7.40 pm: Back at my desk, on with report writing until then end of the evening.



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