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Technology Intervention #1 – Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! at Somerset House, the Paul Klee exhibition at the Tate Modern and Mother Flipper burgers

Happy new year folks! Hope 2013 rounded off nicely and 2014 has started well!

The end of last year was an interesting one for me. A lot of work dropped at the same time and the 4 or 5 weeks in the run up to Christmas ended up being (by quite a long way) the busiest part of my year. Over the break I spent a long time thinking of about how I could improve 2014 for myself and how things could be done differently.

I’m not sure I made any ‘resolutions’ as such, but one thing I promised myself was to fully embrace the ‘work smarter not harder’ philosophy. Last year I worked a lot. I often found myself ‘working’ Saturdays and Sundays. Even when I wasn’t working, my laptop was open and I was, I suppose, trying to work. This is not ‘smart working’. As my last Asian Efficiency newsletter (worth signing up to) pointed out “it is better to work at 100% for 4 hours than at 10% for 8″.

With that in mind, I decided that for the duration of 2014 I would come out from behind my laptop – a kind of technology intervention, if you will – on a Friday and do something other than behind-the-screen work. I have absolutely no idea whether this will be practical or whether it’ll last the year, but I’m certainly intending to give it a good go. As for what I’m going to do, I think we’ll just have to see what comes up, but I’m hoping it’ll be a valid experiment in keeping me focused and creative.

Which brings me onto Friday the 10th of January. Being the first Friday back at work, it was the first one for me to, well, not work.

Somerset House

My first stop was to Somerset House, where I’d intended to see the Behind the Mask exhibition – but hadn’t read the dates correctly (yeah, yeah – I’ll probably go back for it…). Rather than waste the journey, I decided to go and see the rather wonderful Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore! exhibition.

Wikipedia calls Isabella Blow a magazine editor, but I think that seems a rather underwhelming description of someone who cleared *adored* fashion and spent her entire life not just working in it, but living it. Blow is credited as the person who discovered both the designer Alexander McQueen and the milliner Philip Treacy and the biographical exhibition features a huge collection of both of their work.

Isabella Blow: Fashion Galore!

I suppose I’d never really realised just how incredibly talented Treacy is – I mean we’ve all seen his crazy hats in one place or another, but seeing them up close was really kind of breathtaking. They’re on another level – astonishingly creative and quite beautiful. I was particularly impressed with some of the feather based creations, the ‘galleon’ hat being one of those that stood out.

Of course Blow’s collection of dresses, shoes and jewellery (Erik Halley’s Lobster Necklace – I’m looking at you…) were equally as impressive (and beautiful). It made me chuckle hearing/reading about the clothes left in taxis, the cigarette burns in jackets, or the damage to hats as she’d lean forward and try to light a cigarette in a candelabra. And I loved the story of how Andy Warhol first invited her for dinner after seeing her at a party wearing mismatched shoes – who doesn’t enjoy mismatching their shoes from time to time?!

It’s not really covered in the exhibition, but Blow tragically took her own life in 2007 after a long battle with depression. Sad really – she was obviously loved by many, quite the talent and just seemed, well, really rather fun. If you’re a fan of pretty things it’s certainly worth a look – the exhibition runs until March the 2nd and will cost you £12.50 to get in.

After leaving Somerset House, I walked along the river and over the Millennium Bridge, taking myself to the Tate Modern to see the Paul Klee exhibition.

Paul Klee at the Tate Modern

Klee’s art is something I’ve not really paid much attention to, so I was looking forward to having a gander. It’s always a little bit special to see a collection of works that are not usually together in the same place (or haven’t been for many years). I picked up the audio tour (basically an iPod touch in a chunky case) and went and had a look.

Klee was born in Switzerland in 1879 but spent most of his life in Germany, only returning to his country of birth in 1933 after being driven out when the Nazis came to power. When he started painting, he supported himself and his young wife (a Bavarian pianist called Lily) by playing violin – the guy was clearly quite the creative talent! Eventually his art started making money and as well as the painting, he worked and taught in the Bauhaus, extensively writing about colour theory.

Apparently he was ambidextrous, painting with one hand and signing his art with the other, almost like one hand was creative and one hand was business. It was this logical business side that was responsible for his oeuvre – a book listing every painting he ever did. An impressive feat – I’ve always thought it would have been amazing to catalogue everything I’ve ever worked on, or read, or heard – a little bit Stephan Wolfram, I suppose.

As for his art – whilst I enjoyed the collection, it didn’t fill me with the kind of awe some art does. I’ve always subscribed to the ‘go big or go home’ principal with art and it took Klee until he was nearly dead before he started painting on big canvases – most of his pieces are tiny. That said his experimentation with techniques was quite nice – I particularly liked the colour grids and ink oil transfer pictures, the wonderfully named Twittering Machine being a great example of this. The collection is there until the 9th of March and costs £16.50.


After a quick beer and sandwich in the member’s bar I grabbed a (slightly blurry – must get a GorillaPod) photo of the river, then walked back across the bridge and up to St Paul’s. Next (and last!) stop (via a friend in Shoreditch) was the Camden Town Brewery. I’ve been looking forward to trying a Mother Flipper burger for a while now, so I was extraordinarily happy to hear they’re now flippin’ every Friday night for the conceivable future at the brewery.

Mother Flipper

The burger was as good as I’d hoped it’d be (I’m sure I’ll do a write up on Cheeseburger Boy at some point) – dirty, drippy, meaty fun. And the perfect way to wrap my first Friday detached from the laptop.

Any ideas for the next one?!


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