The Malevich that moved me the most

To start at the end – this self portrait – and what a distance from the early self portraits –  is curated for us as a final farewell as we leave the exhibition at the Tate modern.

And how apt that is – we have been on a journey of amazing depth and interest. And he has been our Virgil.



As we leave he looks over our shoulder with that provocative open handed gesture, dressed in those abstract colours – such  presence – returning finally to the figurative style that he started in, left and then returned to.

It was my work, my journey – do you now believe?

I have established the semaphore of Suprematism. I have beaten the lining of the coloured sky, torn it away and in the sack that formed itself, I have put colour and knotted it. Swim! The free white sea, infinity, lies before you. (Kasimir Malevich)


The single image that moved me the most was also from his later work, there is something so compelling and yet so child like in these later images.


They are like beach huts.

In my dream the sea washes me out, brings me back again, it plays with me in a game that I do not even remotely understand – and then lifts me yet again onto the beach.

Exhausted I rise and I look at these huts. I have to chose one.

They are waiting for me to add detail, to breathe life into them – and in so doing destroy everything they stand for.

And I am not worthy – for in the act of choosing I must deny everything else, all future possibilities.

The sea breathes with me. In and out. In and out. It is so powerful. I am so tired.

I open a door.

The Team Player

Yesterday I was lucky enough to be taken to listen to David Peace in conversation with Mark Lawson. The occasion was triggered by the visit to the UK of David Peace, and by the success of the recently published ‘Red or Dead’ – a work that explores the life of Bill Shankly.

And listening to the readings last night central to that man was certainly the concept of the team – that Liverpool was a team above all else and that no individual was as important as the team – a concept we hear so much of in our business life.

watching the gesture


But that wasn’t actually the only reason why I was thinking about teamwork – my post is more a result of watching the performance of Mark Lawson, as he flawlessly performed the role of the perfect foil for David Peace.

This role of the support man really in my view takes a lot of talent, an ability to be quietly confident, full of opinions but not opinionated.



We see this role in much of life – certainly in sports – perhaps the best example is the tireless support given to the lead riders in the Tour de France by the ‘domestiques’. And in business – the incredible talent that work behind the scenes and in the boardrooms of some the most creative CEOs – allowing them to perform as they do.

But what fascinates me now is that I see this too in certain people and the way they live their personal lives. Normally past the nervous stages of youth they are increasingly comfortable in themselves, they quietly smile, are full of experience but still loving the process of learning what is truly important to them.

They take a joy in helping others through nervous times, they enjoy being a friend.

They have found a way to use their personal experience and talent away from the direct light of the spotlight. What a great way to be.

The most beautiful thing in my life

I so want to celebrate everything about you but sometimes, like this evening, for hours I just cry and cry – exhausting myself with the memory of you.


You led the way for me even when everything was hurting you so much.

I so want to see your eyes again, and of course I never will. I want to hear you breathe, peacefully asleep on the stone floor as if it was a soft duvet.

I want to watch you head tilt to one side, always your left, as you try to catch every word I say to you, however softly.

You loved me so unconditionally and I feel so incredibly honoured. Your name is Charlie and you changed absolutely everything about how I think about life, what is possible, what is simple and what is complex. Even now, after all this time, you are still leading me, guiding me. Thank you.

I can still feel what it was like to put my arms around you – and how you were slightly embarrassed when I did.

Nothing, no-one comes close to you.

I just want to give you such an enormous hug – and I can’t – so I just keep crying, and holding the sensation of being with you.

Dream Spaces

Sometimes the conscious mind disengages and we are left in a dream space that is so imaginative and within which so much is possible.


These images reminded me of this sensation. So many different meanings and interpretations.

I know some people achieve this freedom with meditation, Yoga, being alone in moving landscapes, or perhaps in spiritual places with deep connections.

But for me this happens most often when I am dancing. I can feel the logical side of my mind shut down.



It can be a hard landing when the music ends and we are pulled back into the present moment with all it’s noise, clarity and ultimately unsatisfying detail.

But what a wonderful landscape we inhabit while it lasts.

Black, White, Urban and Intimate

This evening I decided to look back at some images I have taken in the last year.

Within a few minutes I realised that the ones I really love share some basic aspects in common.

  • They tend to be intimate – often shot from the hip, on the move, while walking past the subject.


  • They are in black and white


  • They are Urban


  • They are of people. I hesitate to call them portraits, more a kind of capture the moment.

They also seem to be reflective somehow. Pauses in conversations, or thoughtful reflection.


They are so often taken when traveling – I have commented before that the act of travel just seems to make me reach for a camera.

It is enlightening to see these images side by side with ones that don’t mean so much to me – and plan now to proactively build up my expertise in these kind of areas in order to create more that I really do feel satisfied with.

But I also think one of the messages for me – personally – is that it is time to live in a city again. So much of what interests me is urban.

Matisse, Guillem, Maliphant and Liberation

In the last week I have been fortunate to spend time at the Matisse cut outs at the Tate Modern, and to get a chance to see again Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant in Push

Both of course are wonderful – such talent.

I was really moved by a particular Matisse – Acrobats – a work that I had never seen before. It spoke to me of so many things.

One of the many examples on show inspired by the circus, to me it spoke of a journey between two realities – the one constrained and the other free.


Matisse Acrobats

I was thrilled to feel the same message in Push. I don’t think that these artists necessarily were thinking on these lines at all – but that is one of the reasons that abstract art and contemporary dance are so strong – you are free to connect with it in a way that makes sense for your own soul.




Sylvie Guillem and Maliphant in Push

So what this mean for me – am I constrained? Stifled?  Or free ?  Is it a progression over time?

I like to think that it is – and that in the last couple of years I have become far freer than ever before. But I know I have a long way to go – I am still too intense, too demanding, poor at just relaxing and enjoying the moment. At staying in the present.

The main image is from that great Christopher Bruce ballet – Swansong – that I last saw at Sadler’s wells back in 2007. At the end of that work the prisoner is finally liberated by death – and that image of him walking slowly offstage towards a distant light has stayed with me so strongly.

Each of us has some version of our own prison – some sense of how our wings are clipped. But once you see a way to free yourself… it’s just amazing – what else is there?