Life lessons and weird art
9 years ago I went to an Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art in London.
I was transfixed by one of his exhibits - a 40 tonne block of red wax, set on rails ever-so-slowly moving through multiple rooms in the gallery. As it moved, it left big globules of red wax residue around the walls and on the floor as it travelled, triggering thoughts of gore, mess, confusion and wonder.
It was one of the weirdest, random expressions of art I had seen and, as with everyone else, I just stood there for ages watching it, mesmerised.
Back in 1997, I went to see Charles Saatchi's famous 'Sensation' exhibition at the RCA, and although there was some pretty weird stuff, the pieces from Damien Hirst, Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin. etc, although amazing - and some shocking at the time - I felt left less to the imagination of the messages they were portraying to the viewer.
Standing mesmerised by Anish Kapoor's massive block of moving red wax, one thing that really struck me was this sense of how original, different and bizarre it was. I took out my phone and wrote my self a note that said:
"You don’t have to do the same that everybody else does"
It was so unique, so peculiar, it went beyond a category or type of art. You couldn't label it or say it was similar to someone else's work. It was Anish’s expression of something inside of him, and only him. Something that he needed to communicate in this way.
Remembering that moment this week, I googled it (....'Anish Kapoor's big red wax thing').
I learned that the piece was called "Svayambh", which is a Sanskrit word meaning 'self-directed' or 'created out of itself'.
When I read the meaning of Svayambh, and thinking about my note, it was like BOOM!....a message from my past self to my present self.
I've been working on something this week where I've been advised that I 'should' do it a certain way, that this is how you do 'it' in the industry, this is the magic formula.
But I don't want to do it how everybody else does it.
The magic formula, the status quo, does not feel right and true for me, and, for the people I work with.
I wanted to share this with you for two reasons...
First, trust yourself. Trust that you can lead and guide yourself. 'Svayambh' - created out of itself - follow your own inner wisdom, know what feels right and true for you.
Second, 'Everything is information' – as said by my very wise Systemics and Constellations teacher. You never know where you're going to get inspiration and guidance from, and when..
Stay open, curious and wondrous.
Hold onto to those passing thoughts, sentences, poems, images, moments that make a small impact on you.
You never know when they'll reveal themselves as guidance again at a later date.