Inspiration is Everywhere
Creative Scrapbook


This is not as easy as it sounds

On Friday I ran a painting session for a friend’s daughter.  She’s 6. When I Skype her, she’s raring to go – smock on, a pile of paper, paints, water, pencil and four brushes.  She’s wearing a baseball cap which is lucky as I’m wearing my painting hat and don’t want to appear over-dressed. I also have my dining table covered with various paraphernalia including a jug of flowers, just in case.

We kick off drawing and painting a long, thin, pheasant feather which I hold up.  It takes no time at all. Then I hold up a ceramic angel we have hanging on the wall.  It has lovely features including a decorated dress, an intricate wing and a golden halo.  Bish bash bosh – done. I’m beginning to sweat a bit. On instinct I suggest we make something up – how about a caterpillar?  That gets a nod of approval and we’re off. I’m dropping in subtle hints about detail (all those feet, what different colours are you going to use?).  It’s green. We’re done. Seeing as she has a vase of flowers on her table I say that we should each draw our own flower arrangement. Whilst I’m trying to get my head round the various different daffodils and the flowering red currant in front of me, she has gone for the minimalist approach.  Four flowers, green stalks, two pink, two yellow. Enough. Miraculously, the hour is up so we sign our work.

For next week I say we’re going to do portraits of Mum and Dad and she can suggest what they wear.  A gleam comes into her eye. I’m praying she suggests her Dad wears his kilt. All that detail …

Alastair Creamer

Maos @ Blue Mountain School

This was a big event on an intimate scale.  On the night we went, 10 lucky people (we were 2 of them) sat round one long table and were served 16 courses.  Alex, Eddie, Sarah and a host of chefs moved around us like worker bees producing nectar.  There was an atmosphere of calm authority and we were carried along on a culinary cloud in which time (and cost) were secondary to the succession of mind-blowing tastes and explorations.

“Beef fat aged lobster, red gooseberries and cherry tomatoes” (course No 8) is like saying “Visit the Lake District”.  It’s a set of instructions.  Tasting it, and then having that linger on your tongue and in your memory for days afterwards, is similar to walking in the Lakes on a sun-filled Autumn afternoon.  The experience ingrains itself in your mind.

Alastair Creamer

New Music: Let’s Eat Grandma

Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth have been Let’s Eat Grandma for 6 years.  They’re 19 and have two albums to their name.  On a lovely Friday afternoon, their set finished with Donnie Darko, an 11 minute track.  This is a sophisticated, slow-burn of a number – it’s not just a ‘song’.  It builds and grows and then tails away. I bought them some vegan carrot cake afterwards (it’s a long story).

It’s so exciting to come across two musicians who could literally go anywhere with their music.  They could write pop songs or symphonies, jingles or film scores.  They have an imagination that circles the world.  They like clapping games, lying on the floor mid-song, dancing.  To ground all this, they’ve experienced loss (Jenny Hollingworth’s boyfriend died earlier this year and they cancelled their US tour).

I have new music coming out of my ears but these young women have stood out.  It’s not always perfect and there are some aspects I might change, but they cut through because they are taking risks and making big statements.  They have a lot to say.

Mary Farrell

To Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann

Recommended by a colleague, this 120-page parable contains a lovely idea – give well.  First you have to give more in value than you take in payment.  Thereafter it’s about the quality of your giving.  How well do you serve people?  Abundantly place others’ interests first.  Suspend self-interest.  The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.  The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.  It reminded me of one of my favourite quotes: “I see that I must give what I most need.”  (Anne Michaels, Fugitive Pieces)

I came away from it thinking that giving could become a way of life that many of us could entertain.  Give attention, ideas, time, care, energy.  Make other people feel good about themselves.  I found two small lessons in here for me.  First, don’t judge so much.  Appearances can be deceptive.  Biases are rife.  Second, pay attention more.  Notice things and stay curious.

Alastair Creamer

Singing with Nightingales

I cannot remember another occasion when my senses were so cranked up. Sam Lee has been holding these evenings for years. The pace and staging is informal and unfolding. From the moment we come across white anenomes in the woods (a sign of ancient woodland, they grow at a snail’s pace compared to bluebells), I let go and embrace whatever comes my way. When we reach the place, the nightingale sings, a glorious sentence, pauses, then sings an entirely different sentence. Sam sings back. It’s a conversation rather than a duet, a reply, a question, a chat.

Our sensorial range at work is pretty limited. For many years we’ve been encouraged not to bring our selves to work, not to explore and express ourselves, not to go into the far reaches of our senses. Times are a-changing and with them, workspaces. How we work together now draws on more of who we are, our full emotional range. Those sensorial tentacles are stretching themselves!

Alastair Creamer

Do unto others…

The benefit of new experiences. It happened to be hot Yoga and hot Pilates, but it could have been anything. Having never done either of these before, of course, I couldn’t do most of it! I could feel the child in me rising up, exasperated. 

As someone who is constantly asking people to do something new in every session I run and create, this was boot-on-the-other-foot time. A sobering experience. At Clorox, we planned the Bold Immersions to fall across two days to help those who needed reflection time, the space to make sense of their experience and gather their energy. A break does wonders. What seemed impossible yesterday is not so impossible today.

Alastair Creamer

Awash with colour

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams at the V&A in London, has been extended to 1 September. Please go and see it! The exhibition spans the fashion house’s designs for the last 70 years and in that time some amazing names (Dior, Saint Laurent, Galliano, Raf Simons etc.) have gloriously maintained the essence of Dior which, for me, is style, sophistication and creative innovation.

This was a triumph of design. The settings for each space expertly and beautifully off-set the drama of the creations. Rooms were themed (‘Garden Room’ with paper flower garlands, the ‘Ballgown Room’).

I came away punchdrunk. There are certain colours I wear and other colours I love around me. This exhibition was off the scale colour-wise, and it was thrilling! It made me want to understand how colour affects me.

Rankin x Latitude (a pop-up studio for the festival)

People said that 5 minutes with Nelson Mandela or Bill Clinton could feel like half an hour.  They would make you feel at the centre of their world.  I’ve just had 2 minutes with Rankin at Latitude and I now know what they’re talking about.  He honed in on me in a flash.  “What’s going on?”  “Put your fists up.”  “Give me a Michael Caine look.”  “Raise your glasses.”  “Show me some attitude.”   Done.

Several of our group had their photo taken by him and he was consistently insightful.  He found a starting point and then got us to react.  2 minutes and 25 images later he captured our essence.  

I think that limiting time to do a task is a profoundly interesting idea.  We often give groups repetitive tasks.  The second time round we give them half the time.  They always achieve more.

Alastair Creamer

Walking in your Shoes

This has been a fascinating social experiment exploring the generational divide that exists between 40 something parents and their 20 something children. It’s been a time of unprecedented social change and the result has been parents who’ve struggled to keep pace and children who’ve struggled to bring them up to speed. Unfairly dismissed as the ‘snowflakes’, our young women led their mothers through a range of experiments designed to give a real-world experience of life in their shoes. Covering everything from dating, to first jobs, to identity and sexuality, we see how the parent’s views are challenged, minds are opened and a deep level of respect of their young people results. 

In today’s inter-generational organisation, leaders that foster environments where people listen well and use their curiosity to better understand one another, will thrive. Much like reverse mentoring, the spirit here is of learning together rather than leading with the ‘establishment’ world view. How could experiments unlock the hidden possibility in your culture?

Letesia Gibson

How to make our gatherings meaningful

We spend our days meeting others. And in the workplace, it’s the one thing that draws the most complaints – ineffective meetings.  But how much care and attention do we really give to fashioning the way we gather?  Priya Parker believes that if we change the way we gather, we can change our culture.  She’s spent years designing gatherings that genuinely create new opportunity to inspire, connect, create and learn together. With a background in conflict negotiation, she has gathered leaders of countries together to find new solutions, for gatherings to be a signal for change, for meetings to create meaningful opportunities for networking.  Her number one tip?  Start with a clearly defined purpose that is unique to you, with a sense of provocation at its heart. 

It’s really worth standing back and reflecting on how fit-for-purpose our company gatherings are. We each have a unique identity and way of being together. By looking at this picture, what is now revealed about how our gathering could serve us better?

Letesia Gibson