I've been carrying on a gentle research project lately about people who really hit their stride in their 40s (for obvious reasons). It may also just be a list of people I like, but, whatever. Favourites so far include:
- Peggy Guggenheim - I've probably read the most about Ms Guggenheim, and, even though it feels a little disingenuous to compare myself to her, it's perhaps more that I'm inspired most by her (so far). When she turned forty, she opened her first gallery, in Cork Street in London, called Guggenheim Jeune. I went there one evening when I was nearby. It's not there anymore. It was in her forties that she built most of her fantastic, world-changing modern art collection. I also enjoyed the Lisa Vreeland film about her, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict. (And, Mum? I think you look a bit like her. Maybe that's why I like her so much :).)
- Charles and Ray Eames - Late 1940s, early 50s they created work like the Eames House, but moved steadily away from architecture into furniture and other things,
- Barbara Hepworth - Apart from sharing a birthday with me, she found her studio in St Ives when she was in her mid-forties
- Nora Ephron - Finally entered the fray as the brilliant screenwriter she was, with Silkwood, released when she was just 42.
I'm about to take a bit of a leap here in London, taking on a new office space after a good first year in business. I'm nervous about it, but also feel strong about my work and the new network of friends, colleagues, and advisors I've been weaving here. It's also nice to feel committed to building something over the coming years, especially for myself. Maybe that's it. Maybe that's why some people hit their stride in their forties (or another time)... because they work out what they want to do with their time, instead of working for other people on what they want to do.
I was about to write "fingers crossed" but instead I'll write time to knuckle down. It's not about crossing fingers, it's about jumping on chances when they come up after you've given them a good think. The office is a bit of a risk, but I think there will be benefits too, and I'm betting that they will probably outweigh that risk over time.
That's it for now. I haven't really been writing anything down about this research, so the list is a bit short and may or may not be added to.
It was my shrink in San Francisco who made me aware of the great divide I have in my life between my professional and personal lives. Her name is Wendy. Turns out it's normally the case when my professional life is going well my personal life is withered. My professional life has been going well for a few years now. I've spent these new year days mostly at home, mostly reading, mostly sleeping in, and preparing a few thoughts for the new year. I've said no to a couple of friendly invitations, preferring to stay in. I'm slightly worried about this behaviour, because it's depressive, and it's certainly true what they say about saying YES! to things instead of no helps make you feel better. I thank Wendy for teaching me how to see this stuff. (Though it might also be a legitimate rest and think, which I know I enjoy.)
I'm in an interesting spot between creativity and stillness. I've had a splendid year thinking about the various new projects I've shot into the world. It's almost as if I'm setting them up to either dovetail or compete directly with each other.
Making lots of different but related projects has been really fun, and hopefully that's starting to show in the work. I've been thinking very much about continuity and interconnection between them.
I've now found a home for the work - at least temporarily - in the form of a month-to-month office space in Whitechapel. I can't stop thinking about how to set up the space so it's a comfortable, productive workplace. There'll be room for about six people, I'd say. I'll be heading there on Monday to get the keys. Woo!
2015 was great for a few different reasons: I saw more of my brother than in the previous 20 years or so; I've created work for some of the most prominent cultural institutions in the world, I've found an afternoon tea spot to love (thanks to Kim), I've recognised the depth of cultural and artistic existence in London and it's bright and rich, with plenty of territory to explore. I'm also embracing my strength. It's great to make a small business that's yours.
I think London is what you make of it... I started here looking for support and partners, but realised you just have to make work first and develop support to form around you. It's dog-eat-dog here. I've also seen a lot of what people say about the Great British Bureaucracy is absolutely true and I dream about what it would be like if it was never thus. No one specific incident to speak of, but realisation of a general drab acceptance of shit service in some areas.
In spite of this worry about feeling reclusive, I get great energy and validation from my professional life and work, and I'm looking forward to having too many ideas this year. There are a thousand leads to follow and a thousand ideas to evaluate and three or four good ones to activate. I'd like to keep this energy imbalance between professional and personal more front of mind. Sorry for not sending you a Christmas card. I need to maintain an address book. I don't know enough friends' addresses. It'll be a good project.
I've started looking for an office for the company. Insurance is super intense, especially in the middle of town.
Fire, Lightning, Explosion, Aircraft, Riot, Civil Commotion, Malicious Persons, Earthquake,
Storm or Flood, Escape of Water, Escape of Oil, Impact, Accidental Discharge of
Sprinklers, Theft, Subsidence, Landslip and Heave, Accidental Damage to Glass, All other
Accidental Damage and Terrorism.
This is me doing something like consulting at the UNITED NATIONS in New York. It was really exciting. They're thinking about making a new, global museum, and invited me along to discuss it. Wow.