In the dream: The light bulb of a desk lamp that I’d switched on blew – like a lightening break – and shattered glass all over me and across the room. I awoke with Annie Lennox singing It’s all Right (Baby’s Coming Back) sounding in my head. Strange. I remember the song, but haven’t heard it in years. And I’ve never had any particular affection for, or association with, it.
8.00 am: A dialogue. A retrenching. A Communion. 8.45 am: Off to School. 9.00 am: The table is spread: preparations for the annual Harvey Talk on Colour with the second year painters at 10.00 am. 9.30 am: Postgraduate and other administrations. (I’m staying on top of it, for now). 10.00: ‘Colour: Make-Up, Mixing, and Matching’:
In my student days, art schools taught very little if anything in terms of curriculum. It was every man and woman for themselves. That made one very self reliant. But there was stuff that we should’ve known and could’ve been told. Stuff that wouldn’t have stifled our independence, creativity or identities in embryo. On the contrary, it would have liberated our competences and given us authority over our means. The School of Art is my ideal for an art school: it provides a space in which students can discover their own ‘voice’, while, at the same time, an education that equips them with the tools so to do: a craft and an appreciation of the traditions of which they’re apart.
11.30 am: My first MA Fine Art appointment of the day at the West Classroom, Old College. I enjoy my visits here among the postgraduates. They form a distinct community and culture within the school. The MA newbies, whom I taught afterwards, are all developing traction – moving beyond the boundaries of what they’d achieved in the BA Show. That show still exerts a tremendous gravity, one that isn’t easy to break free from. Megs and I looked for found landscapes on the studio floor:
Our ‘messiness’ often bears the same hallmarks of individuality as our paintings.
3.30 pm: My PhD Fine Art tutorial. I got into first gear. Not that I give anything but my best to the MA students. However, PhD teaching is simply more multidimensional. Theory and methodology at a high level are always in the room alongside practice during higher-research tutorials.
4.30 pm: ‘Exit Old College, stage left’, and along the promenade:
The parting light and the lowering cloud imbued the landscape with a consoling melancholy – a fitting backdrop, presently. Aberystwyth has a definite ‘magic’ about it, one that I’ve rediscovered in the past few years. Now Aber, after 35 years of living here, is my ‘home’ at last:
Folk have asked: ‘When do you compose the “asides”?’ For the most part, when moving from one place to another, on a dictaphone. Like the diary’s text in toto, they’re written in and through the day, rather than at the end of it. Ideas and reflections move out of and with me:
6.30 pm: Practise session. 7.30 pm: Teaching admin: diary configuration, viva negotiations, meeting planning, and preparations for tomorrow’s Abstraction lectures. I’m careful to ensure that none of the PowerPoint slides have gone AWOL this time. Last lecture, an image of the Tsars disappeared from its frame just as mysteriously as they had in real life.
An aside: Ruminations after the ‘storm’: