9.00 am. A pre-painting tutorial with one second year student returning to the medium for the first time since her first year. The way forward always takes into account where we’ve been and where we are. 9.30 am. My own return … to the Old College, for a day of third year painting tutorials:
I always begin semester 2 with anticipation. This is the period of consolidation, refinement, and resolution. In a few weeks, one will be able to smell the adrenalin in the air. A chill wind beats upon the seaward side of the building. I can’t get warm. The drink dispenser on the ground floor was temporarily out of action. This was a disaster. I later consoled myself with a stiff hot chocolate at the Cavern (the Les Quatre Chats of Aberystwyth’s own bohemian quarter).
The emergent pattern for the day. I advised:
- each student to rigorously auto-critique their Semester 1 portfolio in order to develop an awareness of their strengths and deficits;
- having defined the deficits (methodological, technical, and conceptual), to address each one in turn and determine simple, doable strategy for overcoming them;
- to up their professionalism by using the best artists’ materials that they can afford;
- to begin conceiving the focus and shape of the exhibition, and a realistic expectation of how many exemplary works can be completed in the time. Better to complete, say, three well-resolved paintings that half a dozen half-baked ones;
- to think beyond the end of the third year. Where is all this leading? Where will it all end?
A question to myself: how does one meaningfully integrate group tutorials at this level and stage of development, and what would be their content?
‘The sea billows roll’:
There are few things more more fulfilling as an academic than seeing students learn from their mistakes. Our mistakes are the best, most loyal, and dispassionate of teachers. It takes considerable courage to square with what we cannot do, and great resolve to dust oneself down after a fall and continue walking. Such a response to the inevitable (and sometime necessary and salutary) lessons of life is, to my mind, a greater articulation of strength and personal integrity than the demonstration of consistent, unalloyed success.
4.30 pm. I and Paul C held and introductory discussion with our two, new PhD Fine Art students in Printmaking. 5.30 pm. Close of teaching.
7.30 pm. I dispatched research admin, and returned to writing and designing the information boards for the exhibition.