Art.Photography.Inspiration

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

5 ‘Mistakes’ That You Should Never Apologize For In Your 20s



Through the craziness of our 20's, there are many things that we will regret or wish we could re-do. There are the countless broken hearts, lost jobs and forgotten friendships that we wish we could fix or mend.
However, we often forget that it is these very mishaps that our generation truly needs. These years are crucial for shaping us into the adults we hope to become, so it makes sense for us to make many mistakes; mistakes are what help us to learn. So, cheers to these years of delinquency!
But don’t take them for granted; to ensure you make all the right mistakes, I’ve compiled a list of things for which no 20-something should feel the need to apologize. Live it up and realize that now is your chance to do everything you want to do.

1. Don’t be sorry for falling in love with everything and everyone you meet.

During these crucial years, people tend to fall in love with literally every new person they meet and every new hobby to which they subscribe. While this love may be fleeting, you should never regret nor feel bad about it.

2. Don’t be sorry for being selfish and putting yourself first.

I often hear my friends complaining about how their significant others or best friends were being selfish by prioritizing personal plans. But that is precisely what people should be doing at our age.
As people grow older, it becomes more difficult to do exactly what we want to do. In addition to inevitable responsibilities, like money and work, other obligations will pop out and tie us down. So, do exactly what you want while you can — and don’t feel bad about it.

3. Don’t be sorry for leaving your good friends and family to chase your ambition.

My friends and family often ask why I moved halfway across the country to live my life. I try to explain that I saw something I wanted and realized I wouldn’t be able to have it where I was.
Whenever they try to guilt me into moving back and dropping my goals, I remember that this is my life and that I must chase my own happiness. No one else will do this for me for me.

4. Don’t be sorry for moving a million different times to a million different cities.

Keep moving from city to city, town to town, until you fall in love with one. Until you’re singing from your rooftop in elation, you should not settle geographically.
Move, pack up, and then move again! You should never apologize for searching for the best place to be the best you.

5. Don’t be sorry for wanting more, ever!

During our 20s, it is completely normal — even expected — never to be satisfied. We are a generation that never settles for less than our desires.
This motivation provides our generation with the power to succeed faster than any generation before. Never, ever, be sorry for wanting more for yourself — no matter who hates you for it along the way.
Top Photo Courtesy: We Heart It

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Quedenraha at The Queen's House

Eager to explore some of London’s performance arts, my friend and I decided to take a trip to the Queen’s House gallery in Greenwich last Sunday to watch “Quedenraha” by Akleriah . 

This particular show was a live performance inside the art gallery halls which offered a unique take on opera, classical music and contemporary dance. The artists wore period-costumes that told a story in themselves, and were all manufactured by hand using eco-friendly materials and embellishments.  The costumes were ravishingly opulent and bursting with texture which created a unique modern Marie Antoinette feel. A live visual feast for the eyes, the initial group of four performers began in the one room and moved the audience into a grand hall where the main act occurred, consisting of about nine artists. This was the story of grandeur, power and politics between two dramatic queens, (my interpretation) with mystical forest nymphs, a serious-faced juggling jester and crazy palace socialites adding to the scene. The story played upon the history of the Queen’s House, and enacted a mysterious game, inspired by the olden day bourgeois. 

This was a pure feast for the senses, a great Sunday outing, and cost us nothing to watch. We both walked out the gallery feeling rather relaxed, in a surreal state of mind, and decided to end of our day in the park with an al fresco picnic !




Tuesday, 25 June 2013

7 Lessons of a Leader: Nelson Mandela

We’re all aware that Nelson Mandela is critically ill in hospital and close to his passing. It seems a shame we always wait until the inspirational icons are no longer with us, before we start to contemplate and celebrate their legend. In a world where people frequently express their disillusionment with politicians and their inability to make a difference, he’s a shining star. For me, there are seven profound lessons that CEOs and leaders can learn from the great Nelson “Madiba” Mandela:

(1) Master your meaning and your emotions
“I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul,” Mandela still likes to quote from W. E. Henley’s Victorian poem ‘Invictus’. Prepared to go to prison for his political beliefs, Mandela stood tall. When his African National Congress (ANC) had been banned by the apartheid South African government in 1960, Mandela had advocated that the party abandon its policy of non-violence, leading to a sentence of life imprisonment. He said, “I was made, by the law, a criminal, not because of what I had done, but because of what I stood for.”
Reflecting on the moment when he entered Robben Island prison, off the coast of Cape Town, Mandela said, “how you’re treated in prison depends on your demeanour.” Threatened with violence by an Afrikaans prison guard, he told him, “You dare touch me, I will take you to the highest court in the land. And by the time I finish with you, you will be as poor as a church mouse.”
Keeping his emotions in check, relations with his captors improved as he sought to “communicate with them in a message that says I recognize your humanity”. His official biographer Anthony Sampson argues that, during his 27 years in jail, Mandela was able to develop “a philosopher’s detachment,” as well as, “the subtler art of politics: how to relate to all kinds of people, how to persuade and cajole, how to turn his warders into his dependents, and how eventually to become master in his own prison.”
CEOs operate in a much more time-compressed environment, yet should work towards attaining a similar state of Zen-like calm and detachment. In this place, they will not only benefit from better health and wellbeing, but keep sight of the bigger picture and avoid getting buffeted by day-to-day issues.
(2) Treat the losers with dignity and turn them into partners
In 1989, apartheid South Africa suffered from racial violence and a faltering economy at home, while it was shunned abroad. The continuing struggle between the black and white populations seemed like a recipe for mutual destruction, like Israel and Palestine. However, the arrival of new president F.W. de Klerk finally presented Mandela faced with a more pragmatic political opponent, who was minded to free him from prison. For years, Mandela had stood for freedom from oppression. How to approach his captor and would-be liberator? Mandela’s lawyer George Bizos explained the thinking: “Let’s help him. Let’s not keep him in his corner by calling him an oppressor. Even the term can become such a stigma.” Mandela helped de Klerk to, “move from that concept called oppressor to that of a partner”.
Mandela understood that in a negotiation, both sides have to gain. There must be no winners and no losers: the South African people as a whole must win. Learning the lessons from Germany at end of the First World War, he believed, “You mustn’t compromise your principles, but you mustn’t humiliate the opposition. No one is more dangerous than one who is humiliated.”
The process through which Mandela managed to free himself, end apartheid and create a new South African constitution was testament to his tremendous generosity of spirit. George Bizos added that Mandela believed that, “we don’t have to be victims of our past, that we can let go of our bitterness, and that all of us can achieve greatness… he did it not through beating anybody down; most people wouldn’t have the forgiveness to do that sort of thing.”
(3) Shift perspectives through symbolism and shared experiences
Through his example and presence, Mandela has always led from the front. Like Gandhi or Churchill, he learned early how to build up and understand his own image. His trademark colourful shirts mirror his exuberance and optimism while reflecting his tribal roots. The 1995 Rugby World Cup provided an even bigger stage for Mandela to fuse his own image with that of the new nation that he was trying to build.
How do you get 42 million people to tolerate one another? Rugby was traditionally a white man’s game in South Africa, and the black majority population would routinely support the teams of opposing nations. However, Mandela seized upon the PR opportunity of South Africa hosting the 1995 tournament to rebrand the Springbok team, whose kit took on the colours of the new national flag. One team, one country, all would walk tall under the new flag. Mandela even demanded that the team learn the words of the new national anthem, ‘Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika’, asking God to bless Africa for all of us. Although the firm underdogs, the national team was able to beat the New Zealand All Blacks in the final – Mandela’s single act of wearing the Springbok jersey was said to bring on side 99% of the white and 99% of the black South African audience, in a single stroke.
Team captain MornĂ© de Plessis helpfully argued that this campaign was “respecting the people that we represented and what we could give back.” After the game, the team took a boat trip to the Robben Island prison, further adding to the national symbolism. “The world needs moments of great joy… the world needs to see that there are moments that we can live together,” de Plessis said, adding: “Sport is the great leveller. [Our victory was inspired by] the father of this nation, the one who inspired to come together when we never ever believed that we could do it. That’s called leadership.”
The other big shared experience designed to bring together opposing factions was the creation of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission. This was about creating a public forum where people could air confront their former aggressors, make their voice heard and get to the truth. Mandela wanted to avoid the acrimony of the Nuremburg trials, which he felt had turned into a vengeful witch-hunt. Instead, this was “soft vengeance… the triumph of a moral vision of the moral world.”
CEOs too can learn to acknowledge the past and draw a line under it. Then, through shared experiences, they must forge a powerful new purpose that people can connect to and believe in.
(4) Embody the spirit of Ubuntu
In 2007, in partnership with entrepreneur Richard Branson and singer Peter Gabriel, Mandela founded ‘The Elders’. Composed of former heads of state, revolutionaries, peacemakers and chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, The Elders work as a small, dedicated group of individuals, using their collective experience and influence to help tackle some of the most pressing problems facing the world today.
In the launch address, Mandela talked about bringing “the spirit of Ubuntu: that profound African sense that we are human only through the humanity of other human beings.” In a thread that defines his whole life, he said, “I believe that in the end that it is kindness and accommodation that are the catalysts for real change.”
With such high ideals, Mandela was alert to the potential dangers of his own personality cult. He learned to talk less about “I” and more about “we,” and was determined “to be looked at as an ordinary human being”. Mandela himself has repeatedly said that “I’m no angel,” and his presidential predecessor F.W. de Klerk concurs: “He was by no means the avuncular, saint-like figure depicted today. As an opponent he could be brutal and quite unfair.” However, while people may have disagreed with the policies Mandela pursued, they don’t question his integrity. His biographer believes that “it was his essential integrity more than his superhuman myth which gave his story its appeal across the world.”
CEOs are rarely, if ever, depicted as angels, but people have to trust them. Even if they’re not liked, people will rally behind them if they know what they stand for and what they believe in.
(5) Everybody feels bigger in your presence
Time and again people comment on Mandela’s strong personality, saying that he has a aura about him. FĂȘted by crowds around the world, Mandela mixed politics and showbiz; criticized for prioritizing social engagements with the Spice Girls or Michael Jackson over a visiting head of state.
The adoration of crowds did not faze him: “I am not very nervous of love, for love is very inspiring.” However, Mandela is also a man of intrinsic humility, with the ability to laugh at himself. “I’m only here to shine her shoes,” he said when meeting Whitney Houston. At a White House reception for religious leaders, Bill Clinton paid an emotional tribute to his guest: “Every time Nelson Mandela walks into a room we all feel a little bigger, we all want to stand up, we all want to cheer, because we’d like to be him on our best day.”
Leaders and CEOs who have this x-factor succeed. Our gut feels their absence when they are replaced by a less charismatic successor, even if we delude ourselves that the new guy is a welcome sobering contrast. British prime minister Gordon Brown was no match for the towering presence of Tony Blair; and even if seen to be doing many of the right things at Apple, Tim Cook lacks the swagger of innovator-supreme Steve Jobs.
(6) Build a sustainable fellowship around your cause
It is interesting to speculate how Nelson Mandela would have fared in the age of social media. Confined to his prison cell, much of the technological era passed him by. However, he was never short of followers, and he understood that mass engagement began with a solid core base. Permitted to converse with other prisoners at Robben Island only when labouring at its mine, his inner core was variously termed the ‘brotherhood’, ‘kitchen cabinet’ and ‘university’. The bedrock of his trusted inner sanctum provided him with the foundation from which to keep on being inspiring. Those who were admitted to Mandela’s close fellowship during those years also flourished: close friend Ahmed Kathrada went on to hold senior government positions, while Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma graduated to lead the party. Political prisoners admitted that they actually looked forward in a sense to going to prison, as they would get to meet the true leaders of the country.
Often seeming to be above race, once in power Mandela broadened his fellowship to include white and Indian colleagues, whom he trusted them completely. He made former president F.W. de Klerk his deputy, and his “rainbow cabinet” was one of the few genuinely multiracial governments in the world. Looking to the corporate world, Jack Ma of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba has also been effective at drawing to his cause a group of highly loyal co-founders. CEOs should develop a true fellowship structure that devolves responsibility and brings on promising talent.
7) Bottle the dream for future generations
After 27 years in captivity, it is easy to overlook the fact that Mandela was only actually president of South Africa for five years. He said that he was one of the generation “for whom the achievement of democracy was the defining challenge”. Aged 80 by the time he stepped down in 1999, Mandela argued that, “when a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country, he can rest in peace… We take leave so that the competent generation of lawyers, computer experts, economists, financiers, doctors, industrialists, engineers and above all ordinary workers and peasants can take the ANC into the new millennium.”
Many great leaders are true ‘one-offs’ and it is too simplistic to suggest that they should seek to bottle their essence to be preserved in aspic. Rather, the big challenge for them is to groom the next generation and ‘blend the essence’ so that it’s fit for their current and future organization. His chosen successor and fellowship member, Thabo Mbeki, was effectively running the country for some of the years while Mandela was still president, with Mandela taking on an increasingly ceremonial role.
The verdict so far on his successors? The next generation of ANC leaders has not been seen to deliver universally good governance: the country continues to be blighted by crime, and the OECD reports that more than 50% of the population is living in poverty. However, South Africa is still is a young country, one that Mandela stamped with the concept of racial tolerance and cooperation as firmly as his predecessors had stamped it with intolerance and segregation.
What we’ve experienced from Mandela’s life is potentially just the start, and his legend is going to be bigger still. In the corporate world that’s my life’s work, we desperately need a new generation of companies that are truly global, courageous and entrepreneurial, and institutions that people care for. Their future leaders would do well to adopt the Mandela mindset and his seven profound lessons.
Having discharged his duty to his people and his country, Mandela can truly rest in peace. He showed us how one person with humility, a dream and a connecting cause could magnify himself and inspire us all. He should take great pride in the legacy that he leaves behind, as it continues to ripple across the world and through future generations. Nelson Mandela: a true legend.
(Words By Steve TappinChief Executive, Xinfu, Host, BBC CEO Guru & Founder, World Of CEOs)

Monday, 6 May 2013

"Hitch"


Having been told his next film after Vertigo would be a failure and a long-drawn out financial loss, British born director and film producer Alfred Hitchcock defiantly made his move in the filming of Psycho.

Famously known for his twisted endings and suspense thrillers, he was worried about being solely labelled as only known for this type of cinematic genre. He wanted something different, to set a new benchmark in American film. Filming the movie on a constrained budget of around $800 000, Psycho had begun it’s process in black and white and on a spare movie set.  

The plot of Psycho was loosely inspired and based on the crimes of the Wisconsin murderer and grave robber Ed Gein. The film centers on the encounter between a secretary, who ends up at a secluded motel after embezzling money from her employer at the motel's disturbed owner, Norman bates, and its aftermath.  

“Hitch” just knew. After cleverly marketing the film in unique ways , by word of mouth, and by use of 'shock tactics', on its first release, Psycho became his best-known film, and later on, a global cult picture. Perhaps what made it stand out from the clutter of movies in the 50’s & 60’s was its then controversial shower scene , naked suggestiveness and shrieking horror music during the famous shower scene. Sticking to his original vision, Hitchcock set a new benchmark for American cinematography, and horror genres.

Having seen the latest motion picture (2013) on his 'behind-the-scenes' story of the making of Psycho starring Anthony Hopkins, I was inspired by Hitchcock's eccentric persistence and creative abilities. 


                



Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Surrealist Movement










My happiest memories in school (there were few) were during my art history lectures, where I’d get lost in the theory and history of surrealist painters and how they found their influences. I decided to do a little revisiting on one my favourite surrealist artists, Salvador Dali.  

Born in Figueras, Spain, Dali was an only child, who was said to have developed an intense and quite egocentric nature. His imagination was so intense that he claims to recall intra-uterine images. He described them as ‘paradise’ and ‘the colour of hell’ with ‘soft, warm immobility’s’. 
Dali's childhood urge was to be a cook, but he started painting at the age of six. Soon he showed signs of aggression and was sent away by his parents to live with a family friend, Pitchot, also an artist. His desire to do the exact opposite of his friends and stamp his uniqueness upon the world sought to precipitate itself in violence. In one such incident, Dali, while walking with a friend, pushed him off of a fifteen foot high bridge onto the rocks below. Further, Dali almost numbed the situation by watching the companion’s mother take bowls of his blood out of the room and calmly ate a bowl of cherries. Dali's acts of sadism and masochism didn't cease with time. One of his sources of enjoyment was throwing himself down stairs. 'The pain' he said, 'was insignificant, the pleasure was immense'. Pleasure and pain seemed intimately entwined. Dali wanted both.
Dali used to stand on his head for substantial periods of time to induce hallucinatory images. Amongst Dali's most famous friends were Picasso and Freud. Indeed much of the surrealist movement can be paralleled with the work of Freud at that time. Psychoanalytic theory purported to explain and interpret dreams, hidden unconscious desires and the tapestry of symbolism thereof. This is the foundation of the surrealist movement.

(source: http://www.surrealists.co.uk/dali.php)