September 25, 2014

8.30 am. I listened to Angela Hewitt’s rendering of J S Bach’s Toccatas in the background while stretching Matt. 20.21 in the further distance. In the foreground, I unspamified my inbox and responded to a final draft of an MA Art History thesis. 9.15 am. The secretaries were labouring heroically to settle students into their modules; Helen and Suzie make a great team. They share a rare combination of patience, generosity, practical sagacity, and an ability to learn hard stuff quickly. From 10.00 am onwards, we inducted second, third, and first year students. It’s good to have the family together once again.

A strange melange of Wagnerian strains overlaid with Rogers and Hammerstein II tunes seeped from the room directly opposite through the cracks in my door. The music accompanies an MA Fine Art photography installation. It insists upon my attention, subtly; a sonorous haunting:

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Some of the first year students assembled in the lecture theatre, looking expectant and earnest. At the beginning of a degree scheme, all things seem either wonderfully possible or utterly daunting, depending on the student’s temperament. Neither perspective is true. When I began art school, my assumption was that everyone in my cohort was more gifted than me. As I discovered later, everyone in my cohort shared the same insecurity.

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After lunch, I began assigning BA painting and MA students to tutors, and drawing up a list of current and new postgraduates. A very healthy bunch. The School punches well above its weight with regard to postgraduate recruitment.

6.00 pm. Practice session 1. 7.00 pm. During the evening session I completed tutee/tutor allocations for the postgraduate contingent and addressed a backlog of filing. 9.45 pm, and off to Holy Trinity Church (the School of Art’s parish church) to greet a hungry hoard of university students from the Christian Union. At night, illuminated, the church reminds me of Christ’s lantern in Holman Hunt’s The Light of the World (1853-4). This night, I saw, too, a tinted etching by the Scottish artist George Chapman (1908-93). Not to be confused with the 17th century English dramatist of the same name, or indeed the 19th century Polish serial killer and suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders:

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The church’s ephemeral congregation, all eager to savour the now famous HTC homemade fudge, looked like the League of Nations on a picnic. There were representatives from Malaysia, Korea, the United States, Ireland, India, Senegal, and Barmouth. I talked with a first-year student whose grandfather (an immigrant Italian) owned a sweet shop in my hometown of Abertillery:

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10.25 pm. ‘The Night Watch’. I completed processing the sound files for Matt. 20.21. As the house became still, they were mixed down into a single track for release. An unexpectedly foreboding and forbidding sound emerged, as of a banshee in slow motion.

 

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