Monday, 9 January 2012

Ten inspiring things from last year

All thinking is about making connections between things. Some of the most creative and innovative thinking occurs when you start making connections between unrelated things with unexpected outcomes. So the places we get inspiration, the kick-start to creative thinking, can be diverse. I've put together a list of ten things that inspired me in 2011, in no particular order.

Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes at the V& A
The real excitement of this extraordinary exhibition was the sense of curation. Rather than taking an artist or movement, to assemble the thread of ideas of an impresario was both impressive and fascinating. The mixture of music, dance, art and film was almost mesmerising. The immense theatrical back drops, one by Picasso, were overwhelmingly beautiful. And then the photographic reportage of the artists painting them, using sweeping brushes to paint the huge canvases, really made you want to go and do something BIG. The drawings by Jean Cocteau, especially the poster of Nijinsky, just blow you away.

Autumn leaves
On a walk in the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park we collected fallen leaves and made patterns. It never fails to delight and surprise me that actually doing these things makes you feel so good. Taking time to stop, look more closely, select and gather, place and compose, really does result in more than just a few leaves.

Yellowcraig Beach
Beaches always inspire with their windswept quality and vast seascapes. Being by the seaside is classically regenerative and curative. A place like Yellowcraig, on the East coast of Scotland near North Berwick, connects me back with my childhood and fills me with excitement for the future.

So often used by artists and such a work of art in themselves. I love to collect them, and they often sit in a pot or pressed in the pages of a sketchbook until I get a moment to make a print or draw a study of them. Endlessly wonderful.

There's nothing more inspiring than when your own children produce work that is delightful. With quite a range of children to choose from, the opportunities for delight are numerous. Polly's Rob Ryan inspired silkscreen for her GCSE was an absolute triumph. The other touching production I received for Christmas was an EP Ellen and Polly recorded for me - wow!

The National Museum of Scotland
Re-opened this year, fully refitted and refurbished, this museum is a lovely, uplifting space, with an old style collection of a bit of everything. There was even a piece of packaging I designed for Rabone Chesterman when I was at Design House. Worth a visit just to stand in the glorious hall and look at the amazing wall of everything. (Which reminds me of another inspiring event 'The Museum of Everything' and the Judith Scott show)

Askew Business Network
A few local businesses based around Askew Road, W12, have got together to create a networking group with the aim of - yes - networking - but also regenerating the immediate area around Askew Road. It is already feeling a lot more upbeat and there are a number of shops looking good - and we've even lured the lovely Ginger Pig into our patch.

Occupy, Arab spring and social media
Such a lot of change has been wrought with the help of social media. One can't help but be inspired by the individual efforts that have been made to instigate regime change, send messages to fat cats and unleash the power of the individual. Paul Mason wrote an excellent article last week in the Guardian, 'Global unrest: how the revolution went viral,' which explored the idea of the graduate with no future and the power of the network. The ability of people via Twitter, Facebook, youtube, whatever to transform local concerns into global issues is liberating.

Steve Jobbs
What sadness. What a legacy. I suspect seldom a minute of the day passes without me being in contact with an Apple product, and indeed the rise (and ups and downs) of Apple run alongside my own adulthood. And the tributes produced, as Michael Johnson writes in his Thought for the Week, included  'one of the images of the year.'

The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman
Grayson Perry's wonderful exhibition at the British Museum revealed an artist far more interesting and far more important that I was expecting. His work is extremely engaging, and the juxtaposition of his work alongside artefacts from the museum's collections placed him in the context of a long tradition of storytelling. The extraordinary centrepiece, 'The Tomb of the Unknown artist' was beautiful, moving, clever and witty. Which puts me in mind of my favourite, and most re-used, quotation heard in the year, from Ed Barber at the London College of Fashion, "the whole fashion industry rocks and rolls on narrative."