Month: January 2016

January 7, 2016

9.00 am. I digitised several text articles related to my research in order to dispose of their analogue source. Afterwards (and with a stiff tea and a square of ultra-dark, chilli-savoured, boutique chocolate to hand), I returned to my assessment of an MPhil Art History thesis.


What one looks for in good chocolate, as in a good thesis, is solidity, consistency, maturity, bite, crispness, sophistication, a balance of flavours, a memorable aftertaste, and the ability to promote an enthusiasm for more. I made critical notes and commentary for the remainder of the morning.

1.40 pm. Now past the half-way point — a critical juncture. Is the reader inclined to go on? Whatever else an academic work may aspire to, it ought to be a compelling read.


3.45 pm. On, then, to the report. Judicious balance is called for: applause for achievement, where due, seasoned with salt and vinegar. Neither unstinting praise nor undiluted censure ever helped anyone.

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6.30 pm. Practise session 1.

7.30 pm. On with the report. It necessitated a more detailed response than I’d anticipated. Balanced, reasoned criticism, supportive suggestions, and a doable plan of action take time and space to compose, and to convey with a degree of compassion. By 9.00 pm, it was in the bag and on its way to the external examiner and the viva voce Chairman. Tomorrow sees the start of a week of fine art feedback tutorials.

9.30 pm. Practise session 2.

January 6, 2016

Yesterday. The last day of essay marking. Among the ‘batch’ were some of best undergraduate essays I’ve ever read. That which distinguishes a good, first-class essay from a good, upper-second class essay is the student’s capacity to make substantiated and persuasive judgements, deductions, and interpretations.  Mere summary, however well executed, doesn’t cut the mustard. By the end of the day, all essays were marked, and the admin for their release, tomorrow, prepared.

9.00 am. The periods of rain persist, like a curse that’ll not abate:


Yesterday’s incoming mail received my attention. Then, I waited for the appointed time to dispose the marks for the Abstraction essay component and the module in toto. 10.00 am. A readying for my return to the School:


The seasonal handing-in of undergraduate portfolios had begun before I’d arrived.

The accumulation of many, minor changes doesn’t amount to a single, significant change. Significant change is consequent on, and in direct proportion to, the degree of effort that’s directed towards it. Significant change is both a process and an event. Significant change can be either positive or negative. Significant change can occur either suddenly or gradually or imperceptibly. Positive and lasting change often comes gradually.

My office clock always runs out of battery when I’m not present to observe it. 10.30 am. More ‘turfing-out’: old papers, books, files, folders — either disposed or destroyed. This is the preparation for change. On, too, with curriculum handout upgrades for next semester’s modules.

2.00 pm. More of the same, in a domestic context. In the study, I dismantled and cast off; in the studio, I connected and assembled. (These two activities are necessarily complimentary.):


The array of effectors was designed (over the Christmas holidays) to generate industrial-type sounds that can be captured, manipulated, and repeated in live performance. The capability is one response to a, as yet, vague desire to sonify visual images of industrial Wales.

3.30 pm. I started collecting evidence and receipts for my tax return and accounts, with a little defiling (un-filing(?)) and refiling in between. 7.00 pm. The chore continued. While rummaging through my old research folders, I came across:


It would have been taken in 2000 during the preparations for The Pictorial Bible I: Settings of the Psalms exhibition that year. Then, I was the masking-tape king. It took another fifteen years (and many miles of masking tape) to complete the project.

January 4, 2016

‘Wrapped in plastic!’:


9.00 am. The new term. On Saturday, having downloaded a WIFI app (which turned out not to be compatible the the latest Mac IOS ) and having attempted to uninstall it, several components related to third party programs and the IOS itself were crippled. It necessitated a major reinstallation of software. In the background to this calamity, I began to implement my ‘turf-out’ policy. Stage 1 of my disposal of the burdens and encumbrances of the past is to throw out all dead paper work related to admin, research, and teaching. It was liberating. One must change that which is in thy power to change, and be patient for the rest. Every so often, an immaculately preserved remnant of ‘old tech’ was drawn out of a file folder (from the days when such things were actual rather than notional). In this case, it was one of many floppy discs used to install MS Windows 3.2 (c.1993):


Is there a museum of defunct software?

9.15 am. On with the residue of Abstraction essays. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. I continued, doggedly, throughout the morning and into the afternoon. The one software suite that I’d not been able to restore on the weekend was my Adobe Design Standard package. Moreover, I’d lost the disc and the license code that I’d purchased in 2013. My younger son found the Adobe download site for the software and the university’s Information Services relayed a copy of the code. It’s a good job they don’t bin their admin, as I’m doing. I continued marking until 5.15 pm.

7.15 pm. Back into the fray:

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9.15 pm. I cannot do one more essay without compromise. I’ve read a number of very solid scripts today, and have been impressed by not only the exhibition of their understanding but also the rigour and heart-felt commitment that some have brought to the task. I suspect that they’ve each exceeded their personal expectations. That attainment is its own reward.