Past and Present
— May 2020
I found pleasure in the last few weeks in a trip to the Royal Academy to see the virtual tour of the Picasso and Paper exhibition. I was filling in the bits I missed on the fabulous 'RA lates' evening on 15th February where the stormy weather concentrated the eccentric atmosphere still further. I also saw the Andy Warhol at Tate Modern - without crowds or hours of travelling.

Within media images I am seeing a new nostalgia. A nostalgia for things we were experiencing as daily life only a few weeks or a couple of months ago.

I can't help but look back at exhilarating social moments in the last year. There were a couple of events that stand out for me.

Richter Reich
On 23rd October 2019 I was fortunate enough to see Richter Reich. This was a powerful collaboration of images and sound performed at the Barbican by the Britten Sinfonia. The two giants of contemporary culture, Steve Reich and Gerhard Richter premiered at The Shed in Manhattan before coming to London, and we were honoured with a glimpse of Steve Reich himself as the performance drew to a close. The juxtaposition of rhythm and colour blew my mind. It was not merely sensory but opened up so many creative possibilities.

Ft Next Generation
One of the most thoughtful experiences of 2019 was the FT Next Generation conference in London on 16th November. In my diary that day I wrote;
“There was a sense that time was running out/short to make important changes to the world, and as a result people were searching for meaningful things, authentic experiences, thoughtful interiors, food that’s good for them, communications with a personal angle, generally a more wholesome lifestyle, and fashion that does not cost the earth (literally) in terms of sustainability. Some of these feelings are reflective of the way life used to be when it was slower, and we more easily absorbed the atmosphere of beautiful surroundings, appreciated quality messages, and real company. It depends what age you are, because these may be new thoughts for younger generations and therefore excitements of the future. For some of us it is evoking previous values but expanded with new resources which is also exciting.

I was proud to be there at NextGen as collaboratively the speakers and the correspondents interviewing them created a rich tapestry of the way the world may look and feel in the not so distant future. “
There will be new challenges ahead creatively and operationally, but within bespoke work the lines of development are often not direct anyway, requiring versatility and adaptability and thinking differently. So on a positive note perhaps artists and designers might not find the world that is unfolding so foreign.

In my own artistic life, the big event of 2019 was the installation of the Illumination Window at Durham cathedral. It was the culmination of two years hands-on work for me, and a project that ran longer than that. How wonderful that the commission could play out without interruption. It was dedicated a year ago. I’ve dipped into my photographic archive and put a selection of images onto Instagram.

You can follow at melhowseartist.
The Illumination Window during installation in 2019. More images can be found on Instagram.
FT Next Generation in London 2019.