Daily Mind-ful 13 May 2017 (Marketing is a bad word in England)

I unearthed a book from 1970 about Hong Kong people. What a walk down memory lane, racial stereotypes and all. It’s fascinating to read the unapologetically sexist, romantic depictions of interracial relationships for example. And the photo portraits are divine; I’m curious to understand how a consumer would search for my friend’s deer tooth jewellery and do a little bit of SEO sleuthing. Google keyword planner shows me that the keyword string, “tooth jewelry” is more popular than any other relevant search term, so I type that into Google to see what search results come up. Much to my surprise (but not delight, that’s for sure), my search results reveal an utterly new category of “tooth jewelry,” diamond and gold studs inserted directly into the teeth, rather than, as I had expected, gold and silver jewelry of traditional configuration containing and showcasing teeth; the main takeaway from this exercise is that it pays to do some simple research to ensure that you’re naming and describing your products according to what people actually seek to buy (via Google search); I relay my bemusing experience at Aldeburgh Music to my good friend, Louise, who, thank god, lives in the country and she explains that, especially to older Brits, “marketing” can be a bad word. This is a key but, of course, somewhat dispiriting lesson from my trusted friend who, like me, is a gung-ho, crack marketing professional. I’m lucky to have a friend/tennis partner/confidante who can lend perspective to my new experiences, both good and bad, in the countryside. Like me, she’s Jewish, and sticks out like a sore thumb 🙂
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Daily Mind-ful 12 May 2017 (The Red House)

LUCKY me: The director of the Britten Pears Foundation gives me a personal tour of The Red House, Benjamin Britten‘s home, which he shared with his partner, Peter Pears, until his death in 1976; the Red House gives visitors unwonted access and intimate proximity to Britten and Pears’ life because not only has the house been conserved in exactly the condition in which it was left, without having guard rails or glass exhibit cases installed to separate members of the public from Britten and Pears’ possessions. But all of the couple’s personal possessions, such as their clothes, accessories, board games and gew gaws, have been left in the house, as if they had just gone out for a walk. The lack of physical barriers between the public and its objects of curiosity and wonderment made for an intimate and affecting viewing experience which made me think about the nature of museum-going in general. The interposition of barriers in and of itself creates an instant atmosphere of awe and reverence which may or may not be justified by the quality/design/provenance of the objects actually being protected. Yet we experience this knee-jerk reaction because of how we have grown up thinking of museums. Therefore, we tend to give instant credit and respect to the objects behind the guard rails (when, in some cases, they might be utter crap, actually). What else impressed and even astonished me was the museum’s exhibition, Queer Talk, a historical exposition and celebration of the 50th anniversary of homosexuality’s decriminalization in Britain. You have to remember that the museum is located in rural Suffolk (Aldeburgh), an area where mostly conservative, older people voted for Brexit, making this exhibition, with its open message of liberal, progressive tolerance, discomfiting by definition. Hats off to the Director though!
It takes guts, leadership and vision to take The Red House in such a direction and proves that she is a torchbearer of the Britten’s unconventional lifestyle and career; I drove over to Snape Maltings after The Red House to meet with Roger Wright, the director of the entire Snape Maltings complex, which, these days, encompasses Aldeburgh Music, the Aldeburgh Festival and the retail complex formerly owned by the Gooderhams, a Suffolk family. I was treated to a personal tour of the whole shebang, which was a privilege and treat.
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Daily Mind-ful 11 May 2017 (Higgins Museum)

[Click the full screen icon at the bottom right corner of the video in order to watch it in normal, much larger format.]
Main reason to watch today’s vlog: I discover the Higgins Museum during my day trip to visit photographer and artist, Edgar Martins, in his studio in Bedford, England. Today’s the first hot day of the year.
HOORAY; listening to too much easy, pop music is like eating junk food for all three meals in a day – not healthy or nutritious for the mind; I meet Edgar Martins, brilliant photographer-artist at his studio in Bedford and am blown away by his intensity, ideas and eloquence. Definitely a Maxell blow-the-hair-back moment!
The use of photography is incidental to his practice. In fact, his formation is philosophy and semiotics, explaining, perhaps, why I felt like I was talking to myself (for better or worse, poor guy). You can judge for yourself once you see my short film about him;
I check out Bedford and, like so many ancient English towns and cities, its historic center is beautiful and charming; I end up canning my plan to hoof it over to the Milton Keynes Art Gallery in favor of the local Higgins Museum, highly recommended by Edgar;
Higgins Museum (Bedford)
It’s always difficult for hard-core enthusiasts of contemporary art to understand my interest in every single period of art but I welcome learning about any period or style of art or, for that matter, new sub-culture; whereas the exhibition about the local airship manufacturer holds zero interest for me, the exhibition of pre-Raphaelite, Victorian painting is fascinating – mostly because this is such a little-referenced, infrequently exhibited, comparatively unpopular period of English art. Yet the quality of the captioning and exemplars at the Higgins easily propels me through it. The Higgins Museum has a very large collection of artworks from every period through the Modern period, so it stages exhibitions (like this one) in order to rotate the collection for public view; I continue my wander through the restored Higgins residence, once the home of the wealthy brewery-owning family who founded the museum and am delighted by the collection of English decorative arts. In my opinion, the best part of the museum is the design gallery, which gives a fantastic, capsule overview of the evolution and history of English decorative arts from the 16th century through the Arts & Crafts period, with an emphasis on Victorian era artifacts and furniture; by the way, I’m a nutter for Meissen porcelain, believe it or not. Deep inside, I’m an unrepentant maximalist who believes that minimalism and all-black are unforgivable design cop-outs; the Higgins Museum contains a large collection of graphic design and printed materials from Edward Bawden, one of England’s leading graphic artists, who passed away in the 1980s; I finally leave the museum — and Bedford — and what a gem of a visit! You never know what you will find tucked away in a quiet corner of England, explaining my willingness to drive far and wide to burrow into its nooks and crannies.
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Daily Mind-ful 10 May 2017

Personal sporting practice is about masochism and exorcism, explaining why I like playing tennis until I feel like I’m going to throw up; Festival d’Avignon is in French! I just realized that it doesn’t make sense for me to go any more. Boo hoo 🙁 I spend my afternoon wrapping up a corporate pitch video for Premiere Performances of Hong Kong; Madrid Open; zillions of gigs are still being sucked up at home without any explanation, so I kill iCloud for once and for all; I’m obsessed with Alexander Zverev, mostly because of his tennis but also because he looks like an insolent Versace model. He’s only twenty, so call me a tennis cougar, if you have to…
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Daily Mind-ful 9 May 2017 (Eco-fashion)

I’m going into London to introduce Christina Dean, the founder of Redress, one of the world’s most dynamic and fast-moving eco-fashion non-profits, to Isabel Encinias, the co-founder of Tejen Collection, an environmentally conscious fine jewelry brand with impeccable design credentials; incredible gold- and silver-plated roses spotted in the window of Sharps Pixley’s St. James showroom. Sharps Pixley is primarily a bullion dealer but makes some interesting peripheral products (like these flowers) to animate its windows, literally, and core offering of bullion. I’ve always been intrigued by their retail storefront on St. James and whether/how it has impacted their business; I meet art consultant, Olga Ovenden of A Consultancy at Franco’s before heading off for lunch at Chutney Mary with Isabel and Christina; Christina has JUST moved from Hong Kong to England full-time, so we enjoy a jubilant reunion moment before entering the restaurant. It’s one of those,
“Holy shit, I can’t believe we both live in the UK (in the middle of nowhere)!” moments; lunch is a combination of life-story-telling, entrepreneurial-pain-point-unburdening and brain storming between all three of us. The upshot is making new friends, cementing old friendships and me offering to make videos about their respective brands, Tejen and Redress’ new eco-fashion brand launching in September, BYT Life. Christina asks if I can make a video before the first week of June and my response, “No f^&*()ing way, are you crazy?” But I promise delivery before the September launch of BYT Life. In the meantime,
consider voting for BYT Life in the Chivas Venture competition here; I meet up with one of my oldest, best friends, John-Paul, after lunch, and he can’t stop stop raving about his recent trip to Iran. It was so incredible and visually bountiful that he posted SIX HUNDRED photos on Facebook about his trip. Considering that John-Paul is an incredible, successful fashion photographer who has visited more than a hundred countries and shoots all over the world, I take this sort of effusive recommendation seriously and make him promise to visit me at home so he can convince John that we MUST go to Iran — SOON. (We missed Burma and Cuba, so I’m determined not to miss the boat on this one.) Esfahan is THE most impressive and beautiful apparently; I learn that Uber is available, even in the middle of the countryside (Eureka!).
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Daily Mind-ful 8 May 2017

Looking for a new emoji catalogue/resource/foundry. Please suggest! My business idea for a new emoji business (not actually mentioned in the video) is this one: Emojis by top contemporary artists (not free), with artists compensated through a royalty system. Rather than low-brow or despicable, such an idea actually reflects the crossroads of where the art industry is NOW. It would be hypocritical and disingenuous to pretend that the art world, with its vaunted pretensions to purity, functions in a hermetically sealed world of idealism. Look at the recent Jeff Koons collection for LVMH, which, as usual (for him) actually takes the piss out of us viewers, the general public who mindlessly, obediently laps up his meta-critique of the art world without understanding that the joke is on us.
It’s awful and brilliant all at the same time; I’m also looking for free cloud-based photo editing software; I started a Facebook page for CultureVlog so that I can share third-party content efficiently. Join me there too; what did we do before computers and smartphones? My husband insists that I print out all bills and leave them on his desk, if I want them paid; I just updated my LinkedIn profile so that it’s no longer snarky and ironic. In case you’re interested, you can find my day job credentials here.
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Daily Mind-ful 7 May 2017 (Hampton Court Palace)

Hampton Court Palace: Henry VIII’s Great Hall was the largest hall in England at the time and features giant, wall-to-wall tapestries of exquisite artistry and condition. Even if you’re not into tapestries (because I’m not), it’s a gobsmacker of a room; the chic floor pillows are emblematic of Historic Royal Palaces, the caretaking organization of Hampton Court Palace, and wouldn’t look out of place in a house today; extremely elaborate napkin and fabric folding was an art form during the Tudor period; headless paper sculptures representing various courtiers flesh out the tableaux of court life within many of the rooms within the Palace and are, in and of themselves, wonderful masterworks of contemporary paper craft; while the palace is crammed with portraits (too many to notice after a while), the best paintings are exhibited in the Cumberland Art Gallery, which boasts many true masterpieces by Van Dyck, Holbein and Rembrandt. The quality of the artworks displayed in this wing (where photography is prohibited) is a definite cut above the rest of the palace’s paintings and one of the high points of Hampton Court Palace; the chapel garden (with its unfortunate green and white striped railings) boasts a series of colourful metalwork animals perched at the top of decorative, heraldic posts.

The undisputed artistic, decorative and creative highlight of my visit was the Guard Room in William III’s apartments, because of the bold geometric arrays of weapons — 3000 fully operational, impeccably polished and maintained ones — lining the upper walls of the chamber. The jaw-dropping display, originally conceived to impress and intimidate visiting generals and dignitaries, undoubtedly achieved its desired effect then — and now, if my own reaction is any indication.

I was so wowed by this room that I made a separate short clip about it for Instagram; each chimney at Hampton Court Palace has a different design. The brickwork of the Palace is maintained by a neighbouring business, 300-year old Bulmer Brick Yard located a stone’s throw away from our house; the yew trees at the Palace make you feel like a mini Alice in Wonderland; we were treated to a game of “real tennis” which, based on casual observations, combines tennis, squash and net goals. (My tennis coach told me later that there are courts and a league quite close to Little Henny but that it’s easy to injure yourself because the balls are rock-hard and, therefore, tennis elbow is a real risk.)

To sum up the highlights: 1) The Guard Room in the apartments of William III; the Cumberland Art Gallery; the gardens; and real tennis, provided there’s an actual match going on. (Without the animation of a live match, it’s just a narrow room with nets.); Sadly, our banner day at Hampton Court was marred by the nightmarish logistics of getting back home! We arrived at Liverpool Street Station and discovered that virtually all the trains on our line were canceled. Consequently, we took a train to Stansted and then an Uber to the car park of Colchester train station. Lesson learned: NEVER expect or plan to take a train on Sunday!

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Daily Mind-ful 6 May 2017 (London shopping)

Shopping in London: Love Delfina Delettrez‘s wacky, surrealist jewels; at Purdey, we met Chris of English Handmade Knives who explained how intricate marbleized effects are created by folding sheets of steel again and again under intense pressure, to increase the metal’s strength while producing an incredible decorative effect; jokey cigar ashtrays in the shape of Havaianas; we visit Thomas Goode, the blue-chip destination for the best china and silverware in the world. But the place is like a museum. No doubt they make their budget each month by selling three or four trousseaus to Qatari princesses. Who else (besides my husband) continues to buy this stuff?; I discover a new and amazing handbag brand (misspelled in the Instagram story): LONB (“Love Or Nothing Baby”). My gut feeling is that their marketing and ad campaign misses the mark (black and white 1960s images) but their bags are to-swoon-for. Hard to believe that someone would launch yet another handbag brand in today’s saturated market. But this team, formerly from Labelux, definitely knows what it’s doing with the product. Equally brave, they’re not wholesaling and ONLY sell through their website and their first and only flagship boutique located on South Audley Street. Seriously, I’m saving up for the Vagabond already….; after a bang-up lunch at yummy new Indian restaurant, Jamavar, on Mount Street, we head to Hampton Court and take a walk around the gardens because it’s too late to enter the house; while buying some wine for dinner, I notice some of the most pretentiously labeled and branded alcohol products ever; trout for dinner; what do people see/taste in rhubarb?!
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Daily Mind-ful 5 May 2017

Weddings; the step change in my tennis game isn’t a fluke; the maximum limit of my concentration; I keep on having to throw out my vlogs about The Week because there’s always a new issue before I can wrap the vlog post about the last issue; undaunted, I post lots of examples illustrating why The Week rocks; the Ritz is badly in need of refurbishment; the people with taste, refinement and style have no money, whereas the people with taste are usually tacky and uneducated; checking out Jorie Jewellery‘s arresting deer tusk jewels at Harvey Nichols with the designer.
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Daily Mind-ful 4 May 2017 (Waitrose)

[Main topic of this vlog: How Waitrose gives insight into the British middle class.] I experienced a step change in my tennis game, largely because of some simple, mechanical, bright line rules. If only our emotional or professional lives were as easy to improve; Waitrose is a great window into the British middle class; I’m consistently impressed by the high quality of every single product and the evident concern with provenance. To wit, the green beans were from Senegal, so I didn’t buy them; while their product assortment overlaps significantly with Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, there’s no liberal, progressive, hippie marketing schtick. Instead, the credo of whole, natural foods whose provenance and chain of custody is clearly documented is a mainstream, middle class concern. (Just remember that the British middle class is NOT the same as the American middle class. See this Quora post for elucidation.) Compared to a normal American grocery store, Waitrose has only the tiniest selection of processed foods; FINALLY, I signed up for Spotify, partially to get up to speed on Benjamin Britten in time for the Aldeburgh Festival; the Aldeburgh Festival is THE most important cultural event in my neck of the woods, East Anglia, and is a well-known classical music festival of global renown. Frankly, I would KILL to be involved with the festival in any way, shape or form; I’m a classical music fanatic actually, in case you didn’t gather from my content. Lately, I’ve become fascinated with contemporary classical music, of which, of course, Benjamin Britten was an early progenitor. Specifically, royalties from his music fund the Aldeburgh Festival. In fact, I’m a proud board member of Asia’s leading classical music solo recital series, which also founded the Hong Kong International Chamber Music Festival: Premiere Performances of Hong Kong. Honest to god, I would do ANYTHING for the founder, Andrea Fessler, who, in my opinion, has singlehandedly raised the bar on Hong Kong’s cultural scene for the past decade. How many people are insane enough to start a NEW cultural organization spearheading classical music in a city as culturally sere and vapid as Hong Kong?! As a board member of PPHK, I’m constantly thinking about how we can entice young people to try classical music for the first time; on vlogging: I deplore young bloggers’ preferred style of countless jump cuts. It’s too, well, jumpy; to avoid this effect, I only tape myself after I’ve worked everything out intellectually by laying down countless takes. These preliminary takes are me thinking out loud, rehearsing and logging my intellectual peregrinations as they occur. But at the end, I jettison those early takes and start from the beginning, striving to tape myself in relatively long, unbroken segments, in order to avoid that jarring jump cut style; indeed, I vlog in the same style as I write; and since we’re on the topic of speaking, I’d like to unequivocally condemn the excessive use of the word “like” — because it makes you sound like a teenage idiot; STOP already! Consider taping yourself in full conversational flow and you will see with your own eyes and ears how you come off. I assure you, you will not be impressed; the first track I listen to on Spotify is the sound track to the movie, Arrival, by Johann Johannsson. (I also downloaded Sicario by Johannsson.); in today’s United States, I can’t imagine venturing below the Mason-Dixon line, although Nashville does tempt me; hair elastics: will they last? They’re a prime example of the built-in obsolescence of cheap consumer products manufactured in China; fully one-third of British homes struggle to use the internet in the evening. I’m right to bitch about the horrendous lack of internet service in the countryside after all.
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