The Head of a Studio department decided to have a regular weekly Lunchtime Lecture for all students who didn't want to lurk in the Pub or go back home. I thoroughly approved of this and was delighted to be commissioned to launch the series on April 1st. The Head of Liberal Studies encouraged a wilfull act of Conceptual Art suitable to the traditions of April Fools' day.
In inventing the gay American sculptor who constructed the Great Star Temple Number One of Winterton on the Norfolk Coast, I found an new interpretation of previously taken photographs of the coastal defences and anti-Tank traps. Asking how they could have been constructed by the sole fabricator Moncrieff I fished out a slide of a concrete mixer abandoned on Cassiobury Park Golf Course, assuming that the disproportion of product and means of production would reveal to my audience the infirmity of the narrative.
However, on the day, the soothing rhythms of Ley Lines, and visual esoterica from my purchases in the recently dispersed Library of E.H.Shackleton, got me well beyond the pressure point anticipated. Astonishingly I encountered no suspicions during the delivery that the whole thing was a Hoax. I felt a twinge of guilt but delight that I had got to the end of the lecture, and launched the programme with such aplomb.
It would have been easy to add a nod or a wink, but I had sustained in the audience a revalation of Norfolk's spiritual claims of being the Navel of the World.
As a Visiting Lecturer I went on to my next teaching day and thought little more of Moncrieff until, three days later, I learnt that a group of sculpture students had hired a van to explore the Monument,and that two of their number were intending to write their dissertations on aspects of the Star Temple.
I took aside the enthusiastic sculptor and explained. He roared with laughter and couldn't wait to tell the others who were set on the expedition any way.
A week later a Departmental Head, his face white with rage, demanded to know whether the whole thing was a fiction."You lost us a great opportunity!" The dmage to his dignity was considerable. In this way I lost half of my teaching days with him but had a keen sense of achievement that has lasted to this day.
When I meet ex-students they share memories with me of two teaching experiences, The Penis in Art, and Dalton Moncrieff's Star Temple.
click for the Full Dalton Moncrieff Lecture
expanded over the years ahead