2 If art is our business, there’s a hierarchy. Making is primary, talking is secondary. Keep that order in mind.
3 The artwork made your hackles rise? Then that artwork caused you to be more alive. Irritability is a register of life. Thank the artwork for the stimulus.
5 <No-one should propose to others a task that they are themselves not prepared to carry out immediately and publicly.> Not sure I quite agree. I would say: If you propose to others a task you can’t do yourself (and there are many such that you will not be able to perform, for you do not stand in the same location as your interlocutors, who will have their own energies, inclinations and time for work), then outrightly state that you start from a position of personal limitation.
6 The great is the sublime, and the sublime is by definition immeasurable. It exceeds examination. Bertrand Russell as examiner: ‘It is my personal opinion that Mr Wittgenstein’s thesis is a work of genius, but be that as it may, it is certainly well up to the standard required for the Cambridge degree of Doctor of Philosophy.’
7 Yes – no general recipes for making art. Nonetheless, though it may not lead to the making of art (however we define that), to enable students to draw readily is to do them a favour, if they are to work visually. By ‘draw readily’, I mean, to think about things by making marks on a surface, whether that thinking is a matter of discovery or of invention.
10 Whether or not ignorance is a virtue, anyone who signs up for an art course commits themselves to dispensing with it.
11, 12 Yes, yes, yes.
13 What do you mean by ‘engagement’ and ‘shallow end’ in this context?
14 Don’t mind considering the possibility that dance might be the way forward… but I know I can’t dance, and I know that dance is not my business! Whereas drawing is.
16 Beautifully expressed.
17 Even better! I shall treasure those words.
19 Knowing when it’s any good… The best-case scenario in art education is that the course enables the student to develop such a consciousness for themselves: but as you say, it can’t be forced.
20 Parenting: yes, and in that, love, or something very like it. Teaching, at best, is wonderful because it is an offering of love.
23 Teaching is learning. Thank every student for introducing you to another way of looking at the world.
Julian Bell, Painter & Writer