I was in London at the weekend (getting my yearly theatrical cultural fix) and snuck off to Liberty's in a spare half hour to lurk around the fabric and jewellery departments (as you do). The fabric colours and patterns were as gorgeous as ever and I didn't find much I didn't like (but lots I couldn't afford!). Not being a dab hand with a needle and thread I have largely only ever been a viewer (and occasional stroker...licking is frowned upon...) of these wonderful weaves and this weekend was no exception. What I also found interesting were the people that were shopping there. The mix was as eclectic as the products on sale, with some people I would have never placed in there picking out the wackiest fabrics for reupholstering their armchairs! Fantastic! I even signed up for the Liberty rewards card - maybe I'll get my hands on some of those fabrics after all!
Then on the way home I picked up one of those free magazines which included 'ideas to revamp your living room'. The answer appeared to be to paint it grey. Grey. I have nothing against grey in particular - but really? The whole room was shades of grey and dark blue with some much needed white to break up the... grey. No patterns. No textures. Just plain block dark colour dismalness. It was like what I imagine a house inside the cloud above Eeyore's head would look like. Gloomy. And yet it was being passed off as stylish, modern, sleek.... and boring. OK, the boring bit was just in my head, but having come from somewhere so vibrant in colour, texture and individuality to then be met by the complete opposite being passed off as something we should all aspire to was gut-wrenching. I've seen more expressionism in a public lavatory. Since when did yawn-o-rama become acceptable or even desirable for our personal living spaces? Why are we trying to make our houses look like everyone else's, particularly when we are being told what that 'look' should be by someone we have never met who has no idea what reflects us as a person? Even a slightly patterned curtain or a cheerful throw would have given the room at least a bit of personality!
Why does this nark me? Because it's something I come across in jewellery too. I frequently get people admiring the jewellery I create (and I am often wearing at the time of admiration) but then comes the "Oh I love that but I couldn't wear it, it's too bright/big/different/unusual/individual..." etc. And it makes me sad. Not because I want to sell more (although that would be nice) but because it reveals a massive gap between the public face we choose to present and the 'real' person behind the mask. The pressure to conform (particularly for those working in office environments) seems to suck all the individuality out of people - a kind of accepted gloom we 'put on' when we go to work. Even when 'going out' for the evening it's all about impressing others, not about having the opportunity to express who we are or what we like (just take a look around a bar or restaurant next time you're out and about and you'll see what I mean).
If you stand back and look at the window of a high street jeweller, how much of it all looks remarkably the same? From a distance can you really make out any discerning details? I'm not against plain styles - they have their place and maybe you are a large solitaire diamond type of person, but I'm betting it's the colourful pieces, the unusual pieces (if they have any) that really catch your eye.
So my mission is to continue to make bigger and brighter pieces for those brave enough to wear them and stick a visual two fingers up to mediocrity and conformity. The range of colours in the glass in my studio provides endless (literally!) possibilities for combinations, shapes, sizes and textures - a whole lifetime just isn't long enough to explore them all!
In the mean time you'll find me in the brightest dress with matching shoes and the most colourful jewellery in the office. And if I could reupholster my chair in something from Liberty's I would. A life in colour is far more appealing than one spent in Eeyore's cloud, no matter who thinks it's stylish, and that's where I intend to stay. As someone very astute once said: "You were born an individual, don't die a copy". :)