This is a page where I will put things I found interesting or inspirational or useful.
My favourite film from childhood was Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory with the brilliant Gene Wilder. I always loved how Mr Wilder was so passionate in the moments of complete absurdity.
Ron Arad is a designer and architect. He was the head of my course at the Royal College of Art and I was lucky to sit in the room when he gave his very direct views on everyone’s work and I learned a lot from that. Before the RCA I worked from my sketchbooks, planning new ideas, and I still do that many times but while on the RCA course I developed an interest in exploring experimentation with materials and equipment. One of the things I learned from Ron was that he had a unending appetite for new ideas and for things he hadn’t seen before. In his work and teaching I saw that he had an ability that seems very rare, to combine both a strong concept with something that also looked interesting. To do both things in one object is very difficult but he does it again and again.
I have the Tom Friedman book about the excellent American artist Tom Friedman. Inside there is a picture of his art college studio walls completely covered with his paintings of portraits, landscapes and everything else typical of an art student’s studio. I guess he was doing what many aspiring artists do and making things he thought an artist should make, like painting portraits and stuff. Then one day he decided to completely clear out his studio and paint the walls, ceiling and floor white. He started again, with only himself and a white room. He bought a metronome and placed it in the middle of the white room and sat and thought about it while it ticked away. It was from this blank starting point that he found his creative voice and began expressing his true self .
Poet Ranier Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926) : Letters to a young poet
Here is something I came across recently, a young aspiring poet sent his poems to Rilke asking for feedback. Rilke’s answer in the first of ten famous letters was interesting to read, its about poetry but could apply to any form of expression. Here is an excerpt found from here.
‘You ask whether your verses are any good. You ask me. You have asked others before this. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are upset when certain editors reject your work. Now (since you have said you want my advice) I beg you to stop doing that sort of thing. You are looking outside, and that is what you should most avoid right now. No one can advise or help you – no one. There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must”, then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse…..’
When I have to think up a new idea I often turn to Cohen’s music to set the tone in my head. I discovered that he is one of the most witty, wise, and insightful men I have ever heard. Not only in his songs but also in his spoken word. I saw him perform in London at the age of 73 and hung on his every word, his voice so deep, aged with whiskey and smoke to a stage where when he talked to the audience it sounded like God was speaking down. I’m learning the guitar to play his songs and get a little closer to him.
Where do ideas come from is a common question people want to know. When asked where he got his ideas for his songs he replied ‘If I knew that I’d go there more often.’
It’s impossible to pick links that sum him up so I’ll just pick out some ones I listened to recently.
Here is a nice introduction to Leonard when he was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. Particularly where he makes his speech by reading his fantastic lyrics.
Other singers I like are Tom Waits, Neil Young, Nick Cave, Nick Drake…