May 18, 2017

8.30 am: To School and the official last day of hanging for the undergraduate exhibiters. 9.00 am: On the turntable this morning: late MA applications, third year Research and Process in Practice essays to assess, a late MA inquirer’s consultation, and a third year dissertation marking meeting. More ambiently: innumerable treks up and down stairs to check out the finalisation of the show. A work veiled in secrecy:

10.00 am: Further ruminations on the nature and legitimacy of sketchbooks with one of our MA Fine Art students. Me (and I was thinking of the painter’s practice particularly):

I’m critical of sketchbooks because they impose a tyranny of the ‘must do’ on students. Pollock, Bacon, Hodgkin etc, never used them. Those who work more spontaneously are hamstrung by them. Better to devise books that are about drawing or small versions of the type of work that you produce. These manifestations can be just as finished as the bigger pieces. But they don’t pretend to be preparatory.

Such books can be, also, a:

  • gymnasium in which the student ‘works out’ particular problems and ideas related to the larger enterprise;
  • greenhouse in which the seeds of later works are planted;
  • nursery in which the shoots of developing ideas grow;
  • rehearsal room in which the artist prepares before the performance.

The aim of these books is to obviate the habit of students jumping into large-scale or ambitious works unnecessarily unprepared — that is to say, without any forethought for what problems may ensue.

12.30 pm: A late MA inquiry meeting was followed by the dissertation decider discussion (or whatever). 1.45 pm: Lunch over the computer and a review of the day’s news about the Tory Manifesto. 2.15 pm: On the first floor, two big gun-paintings found their place on the walls. The show/exhibition catalogues have arrived by the box load. Things are falling into place. 4.00 pm: Phil (‘the porter’) returned to polish the floors … just like in the ‘good ol’ days!’:

Until the end of the afternoon, I advised students on their hang and operated an electric screwdriver (which was light years away from Dr Who’s sonic screwdriver) with panache.

7.30 pm: Over lunch, I managed to listen to part of an enlightening and absorbing lecture by the abstract turntablist Maria Chavez. Whatever else I was going to do this evening, I was going to listen to what she had to say to the end. Her refusal to either record her improvisations or engage with the music industry is a remarkable expression of both her integrity and her determination to remain an artist rather than be cast as a musician. The latter has been my own resolve too:

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