What Mistake?

The 2012 Merge Festival is under way in the Bankside area of London and runs until the end of this week. After having such a great time participating last year I’d been in touch with the organisers and arranged for Carole, Keira and I to take part again, this time as the subjects of some drawings.

Yesterday, the three of us each went to a gallery near the Tate Modern and sat for five artists who captured their view of us. Nothing unusual about that, until you learn that the artists were in fact robots, all named Paul. Each robot was made up of a camera, and a drawing arm fixed to a desk, all hooked up to a laptop. They were all programmed by Patrick Tresset and the picture above is the view from the subject’s chair looking out at the robots (just after they’d finished their work).

Looking at the drawings straight after completion, two things struck us. First, they were good likenesses and we really like some of them, and second, they’re all full of what we’d normally refer to as mistakes. As we looked at the pictures, we began to really appreciate the fact that the drawings are in biro. There’s something quite permanent about biro ink and once the pen is committed to paper, you’ve got something lasting, something you can’t rub out and start again. This in turn made me think about some of the drawing exercises I do with groups of people to help encourage a sense of creativity, experimentation, failure and success in the workplace, and the interesting differences we might see when comparing finished pencil and biro drawings, ‘mistakes’ and all.

Here are some of the drawings the robots produced:

Keira Robot Drawing
Carole Robot Drawing
Doug Robot Drawing

This was a great fun experiment to be a part of and a great reminder that one person’s (or robot’s) mistakes, are another’s creative flair. There may yet be slots available in the schedule so if you are in London over the next few days check out the website and see if you can get along and be on the receiving end of a few mistakes.

Learning to Paint – Record Sleeve

Last week I recorded a song at Never Records as part of the Merge Festival, two copies of which were then cut to vinyl right in front of my eyes. I’m still pinching myself. I get to keep one copy and the other goes into the Never Records project. …

Last week I recorded a song at Never Records as part of the Merge Festival, two copies of which were then cut to vinyl right in front of my eyes. I’m still pinching myself. I get to keep one copy and the other goes into the Never Records project. Everyone who records at Never Records is invited to decorate the sleeve of their record so this weeks learning to paint is a rare chance to experiment with something which wil end up on display. Pardon me while I pinch myself again.

These pictures show the decorated sleeve front and back with the ‘before’ versions for comparison. I used acrylic paints, glitter paint and marker pens.


I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

The A Team

Truth be told I did not plan everything that I’m about to tell you, but enough was planned to warrant trotting out the famous A Team saying. The past week has been overwhelmingly excellent.

It exploded into life last Friday as Ailsa, Jose and I sat on the 12.06 train as it slid out of Paddington. The prosecco cork popped and we were on our way to a camping weekend near Croyde to which we and many others had been invited through connections made on Twitter. The camp was a blast and I suggest you read Mel’s blog post about how she came to be involved.

Everyone who went contributed to the fun, the food and the fooling about – it felt like a real community gathering. Lots of high quality goings on happened and I want to tell you about two things which people said to me about me that were truly uplifting. I’m not going to mention names but I’m so motivated by these two things I can’t resist sharing them.

On the Friday evening I got my guitar out and tuned it then played for a while. I just fiddled with a few tunes then someone stuck an Ipod on so I stashed the guitar. I lack confidence at times and this was one of those times. The following day one of my fellow campers referred to my playing the night before and he used the word magical. I’m grinning as I type. His feedback was magical and helped motivate me to lead a good 90 minute singalong later that evening.

Shortly after camp closed I dropped a line to a fellow camper to say thanks for the fun, great to meet you and all that. I got a lovely reply:

It was lovely to meet you and I found your willingness to just have a go and learn new skills quite inspirational!

This was in part a reference to my latest experiment where I’m teaching myself how to paint. These two moments stood out for me in an aready outstanding weekend.

On Monday I had a bit of a whinge about a poor customer experience. What’s so excellent about that? The company involved picked up on it via Twitter and engaged and went above and beyond the call of duty to fix things. As a direct result they now have a happy customer, me, at least one more new customer, and hopefully a bunch of curious people keen to find out more about them. Read all about it here. Well done Naked Wine.

On Tuesday my laptop went pop. What’s so excellent about that? Well not much but a lack of readily available technology got me talking on the phone with folks and scribbling instead of typing. It’s easy to forget the art of conversation and writing, this minor bump in the road steered me in enjoyable directions (though if you’re reading this mister repair dude I’d really like it back soon, thanks).

On Wednesday I met Rob for lunch. We had a great conversation that focussed largely on how to grow my business. It was fabulous to get such constructive, useful straight talking from someone I know and respect. Cheers Rob, you are a super star.

On Thursday Alex sent me a box of brownies. Delicious chocolate brownies. What a fabulous surprise. Go here, buy some, enjoy. Later that day I collected Keira from school which is always a real pleasure. We concluded our time together that evening with a storming game of Super Mario Bros on the Wii – what a laugh!

Today is Friday. I’m heading into town to meet Flora for lunch. Trust me that is an exciting and motivating treat in itself. Then, after lunch I’m off to Never Records to take part in the Merge Festival. I’m going to record the wonderful Human Resource and it wil be pressed onto vinyl. No need to panic about me storming the charts there will only be two copies pressed. One for me, one for Never Records. I am superexcitednervous about this – I hope it will be enormous fun.

So there you have it. A somewhat indulgent post about a somewhat excellent week. All made possible through high quality relationships and practice. The more we practice the luckier we get folks. Have a stunning weekend, I couldn’t have done this without you.