There is disharmony in the university art school between the artist’s orientation towards creating for all time and the institution’s preference for projects that yield demonstrable value within a brief timeframe. The elastic temporality of artistic creation frequently draws the artist inwards: the convergence of deep historical awareness with a strong future orientation yielding original, but not necessarily timely, works. This is particularly true of the artist working within studio traditions such as painting, drawing and sculpture. If the studio artist’s situation within the university art school is to improve, the processes which occur in the speechless space of the studio must be more accurately and subtly articulated than is often the case. Through reflection on artists’ writings about creative processes and with consideration of theories of time-cycles in the life of the artist and in art history, this paper will assert that time is a mutable element of the artist’s consciousness which the university must acknowledge if it is to accommodate artistic endeavour. Can the university arrive at a process of evaluating art that is flexible, with emphasis on long-term development and retrospective judgment rather than forward-projection? Are we able to look again, critically, at what is meant by innovation and social relevance in relation to the studio artist? Or is the studio artist destined to be misunderstood – merely tolerated – in the contemporary university?