October 27, 2015

8.45 am. ‘Off to School’, as they’d say in the Janet and John books. Punctuality is a courtesy, an efficiency, and often a necessity. But its practice is in decline, I fear. I’m uncomfortable about the students’ use of the term ‘research’ to describe any form of preparation for practice that involves looking at other artists’ work. It sounds too dutiful and mechanistic. One ought to look at the work produced by others as a matter of habit, and as the result of an overflow of enthusiasm for the subject. Ask any aspiring athlete to name half a dozen top-draw competitors in their field that they admire, and they’ll give you twenty. These aspirants are not ‘researchers’; they’re fans. Too often, if you ask an art student to name just a few professional artists who have significance for them, the response is silence. This should not be.

9.00 am. A catch-up second year painting tutorial followed by some catch-up postgraduate admin and teaching prep. 10.00 am. One of two MA fine art tutorials today. 11.10 am. Vocational Practice, and the second class on how to deliver lectures:


Within one hour of practice, and a smidgen of advice, each student improved their performance 200%. But the most important thing they’ve to yet learn (and this can only come with the fruit of greater experience) is to find themselves as lecturers. Never emulate anyone; never envy another person’s gifts; and never betray your own wacky and idiosyncratic way of doing things. Be you … always.

2.00 pm. The second of the day’s two MA fine art tutorials:


Among the attributes of ‘mastery’ at the heart of MA studies are, a willingness to:

  • extend beyond the boundaries of one’s proven competence;
  • court risk and failure as a necessary condition of achieving anything of worth;
  • either rebuild or abandon any or every aspect of one’s practice, if called for;
  • confront the best and the worst in oneself.

3.00 pm. Homeward to complete teaching admin related to today’s Vocational Practice and Thursday’s Abstraction classes. Each MA student received a sound file of this morning’s ‘performance’, to repent of at their leisure. We learn more from our inadequacies than from our virtues. Although, today, this bunch acquitted themselves very well.

6.15 pm. Practise session 1. 7.15 pm. I re-engaged the possible introduction to ‘Image and Inscription’. The length of the work will, to great extent, determine the pace of change. I laid down the equivalent of a dark background wash — the sound work’s ‘ground’. Like a painterly ground, it both vanquishes the emptiness (the silence) of the ‘canvas’ and provides a unifying tone on which to build forward. Am I treading too delicately?


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October 28, 2015