I hope you enjoy reading my blog and that it provokes thoughts and inspiration.
RIP Alexander McQueen | 26th June 2015
I recently went to see the retrospective work of Alexander McQueen at the V & A. Initially, I was not convinced that I wanted to see this show. I wondered whether this posthumous gathering of this man's work was because of his sad death rather than because it would have happened even if he had still lived. In other words, was it in good taste? I can say that I was profoundly moved by the show. It is beautifully curated and the sheer volume and integrity of the work is breathtaking. I have never underestimated the genius of Alexander McQueen but I have never seen any of his catwalk shows, or heard him speak of his inspiration or been privy to his thought process.
His collections were built out of deeply felt convictions about cultural phenomena. There, in his work, were perfect juxta positions of beauty and horror, therapy and torture, safety and barbarism, elegance and savagery, love and pain and intellectual curiosity with crude naivety. These explorations of themes brought out opposing emotions in me. This, coupled with a synthetic environment of stage lighting and deep low rumbling sounds that spoke to my gut, made the whole experience deeply moving. The curators met the demands of showing this work with a staggering level of ingenuity. What is available to buy under the fashion label of Alexander McQueen at Harvey Nics, Selfridges, Barneys or Bergdorf Goodman, to name a few retailers, has only a tenuous connection to the high art of the catwalk.
The most moving and poignant of all was the last exhibit, a room dedicated to his last collection. It was based around the themes of a sanitorium, blood, bandages, glass and suffocation. It had immense beauty and extremely troubling themes. Snakes, diamonds, microscope slides, water, life and death. Death was a little too close for comfort as this was the last in truth and in the fiction.
How can an artist keep a healthy, happy psche when working so intensely with these themes? Is there a life outside work created at this level every season when buyers, critics and monied public want better, newer ideas all the time? Fashion, by its very nature, is fickle and short-lived. If you are in fashion you will need to run faster and harder because the world wants the new version all the time. Sustaining that hunger is hard.
Rest in peace Alexander McQueen, you were a genius. You lived your mission when you said that you wanted to be remembered for creating a whole new way of thinking about fashion. Your influences went wide. You did it. The 90s were yours. No-one outshone you with their influence.
Novel Dedication | 14th June 2015
Writing a novel requires focus, concentration and a great many hours. The story may already have taken root firmly in your imagination and the shape of the plot written easily into a plan, but that is the start. It is keeping all the details of the story straight and clear in your mind, as the story builds with all of the personalities of the characters and the stuff they do and the stuff they do that you didn't plan - that is where the work is. The challenge is to keep the narrative fresh and interesting as the plot moves forward.
A speaker I heard recently was promoting the idea that practice in music makes perfect and he suggested that 10,000 hours makes perfection. This is not a new idea but the idea that you can prove that it is. As I considered this idea, the more it made sense. A doctor I spoke to argued that if the average working week was 40 hours, then a year would contain approximately 2,087 hours and he took 12 years to train for his position. I thought about people I know who have reached a level of success in what they have chosen to do. This led on to the conclusion that the old saying, 'the more you do something, the better you will be', has stood the test of time. Another saying that keeps me going through writer's block and periods of inactivity is simply - 'what you focus on grows'.
A novel or similar creative work will take time and dedication in the making but the proof is whether it stands the test of time and ultimately whether people will like it or not.