Some of you may have noticed that earlier in the week I tweeted:
'Been reading my last two days worth of tweets. This job is brilliant, this job is terrible. Ooh cute baby hedgehogs!'
As all of us in the system, and indeed the public sector, know at the moment the job is a rollercoaster. Lots of us in Education feel that we are battling on for children against a culture of failure, fear and blame. But many of us have that moral purpose and need to do right by children. And, actually, that passion and love for the job. It is who we are, part of our nature, our humanity.
I attended a conference about values and culture today in London. The venue was Drummond gate, near the Tate Britain. Because of the late arrival back at school yesterday, 2am, I was running a little late. There was then tube chaos.
I know delays get frustrating for people but it always upsets me when I overhear the following types of comments from other commuters 'passenger incident? Hmph another jumper. Now we're going to be late.' I've heard it before and it bothers me around humanity. You'd have to be in an incredibly dark place to jump. As it turned out that was a rumour (another rather unpleasant human habit) but I was relieved to find it had been an accident and the person was ok.
At that point I didn't know that though and I arrived at my destination slightly disappointed with humanity and late for the start of the session. I decided to wait until the next session. Then I remembered that this is on at Tate Britain
'Perfect' I thought. I keep wanting to stick a plaster on my fears about humanity, and desperately trying to find one. I knew this exhibition would not do that, but it's art would make me think deeply. I intended to buy the book also and knew at that point I would be taking away far more than a better understanding of social, moral cultural and spiritual values from my course.
Sadly I didn't have the time today for the rest of the fabulous art in Tate Britain, so I went straight for the McQueen/Waplington exhibition. I have always been inspired by McQueen and was sad to learn of his tragic death. A loss to art and the world is worse without him in my opinion. I didn't know very much about Waplington's work other than what I had read about the 2009 collection and that interested me a great deal.
Every now and then the universe cuts you a break just when you need it and when I got up to the exhibition Nick Waplington was there and had just started to talk a group of visitors through the exhibition. He is a fascinating man to listen to and I had the privilege of being able to listen to some of what he said. I wasn't part of the tour and I assume they had been invited or bought tickets so I felt it would be rude to gatecrash and also was really supposed to be over the road working. However, at that moment listening to Waplington talk through the reasoning behind the collection was far more important to me. Ideas around the political situation in 2009, the banking crash, recycling and infinite growth versus finite resource. The haves and have nots. The perception and depiction of women in society. He also talked about his friendship with McQueen and how he was as a person. And the tragic fact that this turned out to be his last big gesture. His final flourish.
I recommend that you buy this, it is available at Tate Britain
Waplington's photographs of the 'work in process' toward the 2009 collection are fascinating. They give an insight into the process, the creativity, the ideas and into McQueen himself.
I don't know if it is available elsewhere I haven't looked. I bought it and then had that moment where I knew if I didn't rush back & ask Nick to sign it I would never forgive myself. So I did. He very graciously did as I babbled away in a Hugh Grant film character type way about how dreadful the biro I'd given him to sign it was. His guests laughed with a mixture of pity & awkwardness!
I couldn't possibly have explained why it was so important to me at that moment. How the universe had sent it. How this wrangling in my job as a Headteacher between what the system is becoming politically and what I know is morally right is so resonant with the tension that is present in McQueen's work. The layers, the texture. The infinite growth. The finite resources.
Both men, both artists, making us think about it through art. More than that, feel about it.
Lee Alexander McQueen on the 2009 collection: