Clerkenwell Design Week Day One : Finding Henri

I’m currently at Clerkenwell Design Week (#CDW2018), working as the artist in residence for Ocee Design. The event is huge, with over 100 showrooms open to the public. The weather was excellent on day one, and this helped draw a really big crowd.

On arrival at the Ocee Design showroom there was a very welcoming, lively atmosphere, lots of people being really well looked after. It was a lovely mood to start the working day.

I set to work on the first of a series of signed and numbered free art drop prints which are being hidden around the festival. In total I dropped six yesterday, four in the morning and two more in the afternoon. Here are two of them shown in situ.

The time was passing quickly – a short talk I was delivering at 2pm was on my mind, and I had one or two technical glitches to iron out. With helpful people on hand, the set up was completed, and the talk went well. I’ll be repeating the session throughout the week and I’ll post the notes and slides next week.

The showroom continued to buzz – we have a doodle canvas on display for our visitors to add their names, sketches and thoughts to, and while people engaged with that, I felt I hadn’t really clicked into the artistic gear I was looking for. Earlier, while speaking, I had referenced Henri Matisse. In his later years, as his health deteriorated, Matisse displayed great adaptability in conceiving and delivering the idea of his now famous cut outs. During the talk I used him as an example of willingness to change, and I subsequently discovered one of his prints in the showroom. It struck me that I too needed to change my approach.

A sign was made, inviting people to make art with me, and while I waited for people to engage, I began to make. People showed an interest, conversations started, then I found myself making art to order. Things were moving along nicely, and then – it happened. A kind person responded positively to the art invitation, and there we were, talking and making together.

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The day ended with some excellent conversations about what had been made during the afternoon, and some shared ideas about what we can do on day two and day three. I’m heading back into London in a few minutes, ready for another day of using art to inquire and engage – a tool for expression and exploration. Yesterday I spoke about Henri, and then, when I needed inspiration, I found him. I wonder what will inspire us today?

The people at Ocee Design are a real pleasure to work with. They were busy all day and did a great job of keeping the energy going. The enthusiasm and warmth they have shown me and all their guests is appreciated, and I’m confident it points to things getting even better as the festival continues.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

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