May 31, 2018

When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death: Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers (‘Te Deum’, The Book of Common Prayer (1559))

7.15 am: A communion. The study was still very warm first thing in the morning. The last of the taught course modules (BA and MA) had been marked. The first of two board meetings would be held today, to confirm the results for undergraduate and postgraduate fine art. Once that was concluded, I’d return to finalise the PhD monitoring procedure. Another bitty job. Too many parts to coalesce; too many ‘stakeholders’ (dreadful term) to marshal.

10.30 am: Preparations completed, I headed for the School and the board meeting:

All the marks were confirmed and a review of student experience given by the External Examiner. It’s useful to listen to an external perspective. He was very positive and supportive. One of the principal problems students have in conducting their studies is organising time. You can teach time management, but you can’t implement it for them. One of the skills that they’ll need to get a handle on before moving into the ‘wicked world of work’ is that of balancing competing priorities. As staff, this is a daily preoccupation. Unfortunately, tasks don’t enter our lives, like the beads on a Rosary, one at the time, but like buckshot – in a cluster, all at once, and dispersed across a broad area.

12.15 pm: I came home for an early lunch and to catch up on emails before the afternoon’s funeral. On arrival: a funereal cone, captured in a full-colour photograph. Appearances can be deceptive:

Mourners entered. Some were girded up by their faith and assured that this wasn’t the end, while others were either stoic or desperately casting around for consolation and meaning. (Note to self: ‘Choose your funeral hymns and Bible readings soon.’)

2.45 pm: Homebase, and on with PhD monitoring reviews. A bitty afternoon: things to file, sign off, prepare for either disposal or dispersal, and stare at with a heavy heart. I was in a  strange mood. While the past is inviolate, it’s possible to reinvent the future: to abandon one vision, and set of expectations and hopes, and to replace them with others. The present is but the tipping point between was what was and what is to come.

7.30 pm: I walked into the studio, not to do anything but, rather, to reacquaint myself  with the room and its equipment, the projects underway, and the ideas and processes to which I’d return, now that the lion’s share of assessing was behind me. This would be a full and full-on Summer with regards to research:

My planned trip away (which I’ve taken every year for the past three) marks the transition between the end of the final semester and the beginning of Summer. It’s an opportunity to get away from everything and every one here, and to reconnect with the friends and places associated with my childhood, there.

I want to see some of my PhD and MA painters next week, in order to begin the notional ‘semester three’. Notifications dispatched. A tiredness, that I’ve been suppressing for the past month, was catching up on me. It’s been a long, tumultuous, complex, and challenging period – an Everest of a climb in respect to teaching.  Personally, during the period since this time last year my heart, soul, mind, and body have known unprecedented upheavals, for which I’ve been profoundly grateful. I would not change any part of it.



The ‘Diary of Departures’ explained a great deal


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