Gold Against The Soul

This week’s free art drop emerged while reflecting on a hectic week of (just) meeting deadlines. It’s a postscript to a small body of work I completed earlier in the week, which I will write more about in the next few days.

Gold Against The Soul is a small abstract, made with gold leaf, and overlaid with silver paint, spread onto the leaf using an out of date Tate Modern membership card. Gold leaf is a very fiddly medium to work with, and one thing I enjoy about it once applied, is how the surface responds to different light sources. Here are a few photos of the work, shown indoors and outdoors, and in partial shade too.

If you live in the Wallington/Carshalton area, keep an eye out for this piece over the weekend.

Fragments of The Soul

The importance of working out loud, of iteration and abundance.

A post about working out loud, iteration and abundance.

The original of this abstract work of art which you can see above, now resides in the USA. I created it as part of a one-off printing process using acrylic paint. Mixing paints, pressing sheets of paper together and pulling them apart again. There are bumps, ridges and an almost feather like quality in parts of the pictures – a result of the separation of the pieces of paper. You can see that more clearly in another piece of the work I have photographed here.

Fragments of the Soul

After I’d finished the work I was left with more art than I’d originally bargained for – as the separated sheets each formed their own image. What to do with this abundance? I photographed a piece of the work and the image has become the introduction to my current talk, The Art and Soul of Better Work.

The Art and Soul of Better Work

The talk itself has undergone several iterations since I first started writing it way back when. It has even shifted, ebbed and flowed over the last showings in Lisbon and Barcelona, and I’m now heading to Madrid to close this wonderful Spring European tour with another, slightly different version of the talk. Working out loud, getting feedback. Iterating all the time.

I will post the latest version of the slides after the talk, and a question I want to answer now is – what to do with the remaining pieces of the art?

Smaller Fragments

As you can see – they are now mounted, I’m taking them with me to Madrid and I am mindful to give them away. This work, this art, this stuff – it feels like it has become part of my life, fragments of the soul, maybe I should hold onto a piece, for now at least.

Where is the Soul?

A while back I received the email equivalent of a slap in the face with a wet fish, when the good people at McKinsey wrote to me, and doubtless many others, with this note:

Mobilizing your C-suite for big-data analytics.
Leadership-capacity constraints are undermining many companies’ efforts. New management structures, roles, and divisions of labor can all be part of the solution.

I was then encouraged to click ‘more’, yet I could take no more, my own ‘capacity constraint’ having been breached.

I moved on, at least I thought I did. Whilst working in the office recently I came across a card my late Father wrote to me a few years ago. Inside the card are these simple words:

Dear Doug, I am so very pleased that your change in direction job-wise is working out. As a job for life civil servant I wouldn’t have had the balls. You have my utmost regard and admiration. With my love – Dad xx.

What a sharply gentle, wonderful contrast to the hyper convoluted management mumbo jumbo that had so recently burned my eyes and soul. That folks is how you inspire, move and motivate people, not through buzzwords and other corporate flim flam, but through simple love and sincerity. The very next chance you get to interact with other humans, instead of pondering how you might collectively mobilize your C-suite, instead try finding clear, simple ways to appreciate and tell each other about the good stuff happening around you. Be the human in Human Resources.

When did it become OK to check your heart and soul in with security on arrival at work? I don’t think I got that memo.

This post was originally published on HRExaminer in November 2013.