Alexander McQueen

Kings and Queens of inspiration

My brother gave me a gorgeous Alexander McQueen coffee table book for Christmas.

It's packed with amazing photos of his work, and weighs a ton. I've barely even got past the first few pages so far, because I like to sit and gaze at the pictures for ages, absorbing every detail.

When I was at art college, John Galliano's star was still a bright and rising one. He was still lecturing at my college, and using the library.
When he came in with his assistants, everyone would act very cool, but I'd go and stand behind one of the bookcases so that I could watch him work from between the books on the shelves.
The energy that was pouring off him was incredible – I could almost hear it crackling. He would have stacks of books piled up on his table, and he'd tear through them with post-it notes like a tornado, while his assistants rushed back and forth to the photo copier.

While working at an opera house last summer, I got to witness director Barrie Kosky working on his production of Saul. From my shadowy hiding place in the Gods, I was blown away at how Kosky completely owned the entire stage and auditorium – his energy was huge, bouncing and electric, igniting passion and vigour from everyone around him.

I'm sure I'll write more about people who inspire me – but when I'm looking for motivation and spark to help turn the early January wheels, I find it usually helps to check out my heroes and heroines.

I dream of McQueen


"There is no way back for me now. I'm going to take you on journeys you've never dreamed were possible"

I spotted these words inscribed on a wall at the Victoria & Albert Museum, just as I was exiting the exhibition 'Savage Beauty' - a stunning retrospective on the incredible work of fashion designer Alexander McQueen. I stopped and read the quote again, then pulled out my sketchbook to note it down. The inspiration shivered through me. Thank you, Mr. McQueen.

It’s been just over a month since The Pirate Queen mural went up on the walls of Brighton. I haven’t blogged sooner because I’ve mostly been catching up on boring admin stuff. But it feels good to be organised – yes, even creative types can be organised! The studio has been completely sorted and Feng Shui'd, and all the furniture has been painted white. The whiteness was inspired by painter Claire Fearon, who has moved into the studio next door to me. She has painted her space completely white and I thought, wow - that looks great. I have to say it really does make a difference – as well as reflecting the light, the whiteness does help to clear the mind and keep you to focussed on your work.

I've also been taking a bit of time to recharge with some inspiration. Working at Glyndebourne opera house certainly helps - not just because of the amazing stage sets and costumes, the incredible music and the glorious gardens, but also because of the wonderful army of people who work there. I feel very lucky to be able to spend time there. 

'Carmen' - photo by Robert Workman. 

'Carmen' - photo by Robert Workman. 

I’ve always been an Alexander McQueen fan, so I really couldn’t wait to go and see Savage Beauty. The exhibition was a very immersive experience – each room had its own distinct feel, charting the developing stages of McQueen’s career. For me, his work is more than just fashion – it charts the point where dressing blurs into art. And by ‘art’, I think I mean something that has a spiritual weight to it – something that brings you out in goose bumps, sets your heart racing – perhaps induces a feeling of dread or of euphoria. I never thought that looking at a dress would be something that could bring me to the brink of tears… but there we have it!

For those of you that couldn’t make it to the show, here is a two-minute smorgasbord of McQueen fabulousness:

Here are some drawings that I feel might have a touch of the McQueen about them…

Till next time...