8.15 pm. To the School to pick up my laptop; 8.30 am. To the Old College for a morning of third-year tutorials. The sky and air are decidedly autumnal. My cohort appear to be either ahead of the game or destined to complete their work comfortably in time for the show. The weather is improving:
Some principles and observations:
- Listen to your heart. Hearing the counsel of tutors and peers is both necessary and wise. But knowing when to reject that advice requires greater wisdom by far.
- Take photographs of your work space and colleagues before you leave university. As you get older, you’ll realise that memories alone are an insufficient means of recollection.
- Reckon on it: as you approach the exhibition, it’s likely that you’ll experience profound shifts in your estimation of the work which you’ve produced. One day, you’ll be close to ecstasy; the next, despair. Regard neither. These are responses that arise from mere feelings that, themselves, arise from tiredness and stress. A sober judgement is required — one that must be informed by the mind and a criteria and opinions external to yourself.
- ‘Integration’ is one of my watchwords: the bringing together or fusing of the myriad aspects of who one is in a single artwork.
- ‘Art is greatest which conveys to the mind of the spectator, by any means whatsoever, the greatest number of the greatest ideas’ (John Ruskin). I don’t agree with, what is otherwise, a well expressed sentiment, but his emphasis on an appeal to the mind (rather than the eye), through ideas (rather than perceptual phenomena), and ‘by any means’ (rather than traditional fine art forms only) has always struck me as prophetic of late-twentieth century art.
I feel both anticipation and melancholy at this time of the year. The approaching degree show represents the consummation of three years’ endeavour. But with it comes the loss of a fine bunch of earnest, hardworking, interesting, and fun-to-be-with students. I’m about to endure my annual, mini bereavement:
2.00 pm. After lunch, I undertook a ‘micro-tutorial’ with one of our MA painters before heading back to the School:
If one’s activities are being compromised by systems set up to monitor those activities, then something is dreadfully amiss with the latter. (My day dictates my diary, and not vice versa.) This problem is endemic to UK bureaucracy. Monitoring has become synonymous with control. We must now behave in ways that are measurable and accountable. This is not so much an issue of academic freedom as one of individual liberty. But I digress …
3.40 pm. PhD and MA admin catch up and one second year painting tutorial. 5.20 pm. Homeward.
7.30 pm. ‘Death to all incoming emails!’ On with MA assessment manoeuvres. Finding available rooms for such in mid May is hard. Back to assessing the PhD Art History thesis, begun on Saturday.
9.20 pm. Landscape with apparitional rocking chair:
Not long after this photograph was taken, three illuminations appeared on the horizon. Two were as far apart from one another as the wing lights (left and right) on a passenger plane; the other was situated in the further distance. The lights were either static or in slow motion. Less than fifteen seconds later, they disappeared. Commercial aircraft don’t fly so close low in the sky and certainly not at 90 degrees to the shoreline. In my Chapels in Wales lecture on Tuesday, I discussed a similar phenomenon, which was observed over three hundred at fifty years ago and, possibly, again around 1904 — the year of the Welsh religious revival: The Welsh antiquarian Thomas Pennant described what, in Welsh, were called Tan Dyeithr (angelic strange fires), which moved in the sky over Cardigan Bay.