May 28, 2015

The only true voyage of discovery … would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another, of a hundred others, to behold the hundred universes that each of them beholds, that each of them is (Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time (1913-27).

The curse of the habitual and too familiar often affects in art students a desire to change either their subject matter, context and medium of operation, or teacher. In many cases, one or more of these responses will successfully reinvigorate endeavour. However, there are occasions when the problem is not caused by outward circumstances but, rather, by a failure or tiredness of personal vision. Thus, it’s entirely possible to overhaul what and where they perceive and those who help them to look, but still see no better. Instead, they should seek to overcome the provinciality of their way of seeing; in other words, to try and view the same things, but as might someone else. I’ve known a number of students who, having become bored with either their module, tutor, or art school, moved from one to another only to discover that the underlying deficit followed them.

8.00 am. Most every morning — an ample bowl of organic porridge:


9.00 am. My assessment admin finalisation day+. I prepared feedback emails in readiness for their release tomorrow morning. This took up half the day. 55 reports in all, from second year BA to second year MA studies in fine art and art history.

2.00 pm. Having acquitted myself of taught course assessments, I move to the upper school to further the organisation of two PhD Art History viva voce and attend to incoming research student monitoring forms and a backlog of unread emails (the latter two tasks being more or less synonymous). Where our distractions are, there our heart is also. The lure of on-line gear testing videos has been the destruction of many a young man. (I feel it.)

3.15 pm. Ah! Teatime:


When I was a young man and living in South Wales, teatime was a more substantial affair, being one of four daily meals: breakfast (8.00 am), dinner (1.00 pm), teatime (5.00 pm), and supper (9.00 pm). Only when I became a student did I discover that this was not the norm elsewhere. Teatime took the form of tinned fruit with condensed milk, a slice of bread and butter (pronounced: ‘brem-butta’) to dip in the milk, a piece of cake or tart, and a ‘nice cuppa tea’. No one drank coffee in my terrace. I’d not even tasted boiled rice, curry, pizza, pasta (other than Heinz spaghetti) or cheesecake — which sounded about as plausible as milk sausages.

4.30 pm. No sooner than I’ve dispatched one email, several more dribble into the box. It’s rather like trying to bail out a holed boat. 6.30 pm. Practice session 1.

7.30 pm. I play catch up with research admin related to image reproduction permissions for a forthcoming chapter of mine:


8.20 pm. On with Research Monitoring management. The task is made the more difficult for having to complete each form on a Word document that is passed by email between three people, at least one of whom is in the same geographical place as the others. Why can’t this be done on an electronic, on-line form? At least, this year, one’s typed comments are not automatically and irrevocably underlined and cast in green. (In my scheme of things, people who write in green are almost always angry, complaining nutters.)