6.50 am: Before I woke, and as I woke, I heard the sounds of birdsong close-by and a car travelling into the far distance. The experience evoked the memory — and with it my precise mood and frame of mind on — of waking-up at a bed and breakfast in Colorado Springs on my first morning, in 1999. It was like being there, once again, while simultaneously present, here. Perhaps the phenomenon is an example of a type of chronesthesia (or mental time travel):
8.40 pm: I walked to the Old College in the spitting rain on a morning that felt as though it belonged in a dream. Dark daylight:
9.00 am: A day of postgraduate teaching (PhD and MA Fine Art). I took on two PhD-ers to kick off. These were very different students, orientations, and tutorial discussions. At PhD level, the tutor should abandon all templates. The student is the course; the course is the student. It’s an entirely unorthodox experience of education. And, long may it remain so.
1.30 pm: Another expedition to the Old College for a partial afternoon of MA fine art tutorials. ‘The best laid plans …’. They forgot:
I, too, often need a reminder to remember my reminder to do stuff. Tutorials are, on occasion, like free-jazz performances. They’re in the moment, as it were. ‘You had to be there’, as they say. The ‘electricity’ that passes between the student and the tutor resides not so much in what was said as how it was received. A sound recording (which can be a useful learning aid) can capture only the externals of the transaction. The inner transformation (which is entirely the responsibility and resolve of the student) takes place in silence. 3.30 pm: Back to the mothership for the second PhD fine art tutorial of the day, at 4.00 pm. I’ve received a great deal of energy from my tutees today. Very grateful.
7.30 pm: I had piddling bits of admin to shoo-away and several emails of a confirmatory kind to ‘pen’/finger before opening a window on my article referencing once again.
Some principles and observations derived from today’s engagements:
- Your work is your best tutor. But it speaks to you ever so quietly, and only when you’re prepared to listen.
- The anchor of art finds its firmest hold in the soul.
- In art, progress rarely takes place in a straight line.
- Don’t resist a good idea.
- Develop a sense of purpose in the broader field of your life and you’ll discover it in your work, as a consequence.
- The older you get the clearer the task becomes.
- Determine the core concerns of your work and steer everything else towards them.
- I rarely reflect on my teaching. I always reflect on my conversations with students. Pedagogy is of less significance than relationships.