September 19, 2017

9.00 am: Upwards, to the Hugh Owen Building and a 3-hour meeting on the Research Excellence Framework (REF), as it will ‘impact’ upon practice-based research. I’ve always had considerable misgivings about the ideology and methodology (the one proceeds from the other) of research assessment. I’m now clearer about both, in their current iteration, and firmer in my convictions. In some ways, my own practice fits well within the strictures of its expectations. But it hasn’t always and, someday, may not again. What then?:

On my return to town, I picked up the remaining two cassette-tape recorders from Argos and headed to the mothership for the final MA Fine Art examination board meeting. Once again, the External Examiner was impressed by the overall standard of professionalism. This coming year’s contingent have much to live up to. The aftermath of a working lunch:

2.15 pm: The release of the MA feedback sheets (ex-marks), and a general catch up with incoming mail. 3.00 pm: Consultations about entry to the MA Fine Art degree in 2018 have already begun. Increasingly, we receive inquiries from folk who’ve been out of education for a while, and unconfident about immersing themselves in a taught course again. Their reticence is understandable. They’re asking a great deal of themselves. And we’ll be asking a great deal of them. Our policy, for such, is to begin a discussion, and to set preparatory projects that they can undertake during the year prior to application. As a result, both parties will be, by the end of the process, more convinced that they’ve a fighting chance of success. We move towards the goal together.

What are we looking for in a prospective MA Fine Art students:

  • A consciousness of their need for advanced instruction.
  • A curiosity about other artists’ work.
  • A hunger for something that is, as yet, undisclosed to them.
  • A willingness to discover something deeply significant about themselves, and to evolve towards that realisation.
  • A track record of hard work, bloody-mindedness, and reckless abandon to risks, and a deep passion for the subject.
  • An openness to hitherto unconsidered possibilities.
  • Teachability.
  • A sense of vocation and a desire to move from mastery towards professionalism.
  • A love of the materials, processes, tradition, and art history of a medium.
  • Evidence of an above average competence in that medium and in writing.

4.15 pm: Having assessed the MA show as module outputs, I returned to the gallery in order to engage the students’ work as art:

5.15 pm: Homeward.

7.30 pm: The clouds spilled across the sky: a sea of marks like quill strokes, plumes, and blotches of indanthrene ink:

I settled to construct the PowerPoint for an introductory talk to the second and third year painters on the nature of one-to-one tutorials. Simultaneously, at the far end of my thinking, I started to compile a list of decisions that have to be made shortly. By the end of evening, two statements that I’d heard during the day had impressed themselves upon me. The one was not related to the other another, except in my apprehension. In and of themselves, they were barely memorable. Often, it’s how another’s words fit the lock of our perplexities, questionings, or sense of unfulfillment, just at the right time, that make them profound for us. Our need prepares us for listening, and listening, for acceptance.

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