We are continuing to get more in person events and this month I was able to go to some social events too. The EIU invited guests to a Breakfast Briefing with their Chief Economist on ‘The Global Economy’. This is the third time I attended one of their Breakfast Briefings, where I tend to come away feeling much more informed of the economic situation that we have to face. The last time I attended an EIU event was a few weeks before the pandemic with a warning of the impact of the coronavirus – but then no one could have predicted the scale of it! Now we are living in more uncertain times with a cost-of-living crisis, inflation, slow-down in economic growth, power shifts and more conflict in the world. It seems we really have to imagine a way out of this mess once more and therefore innovation, positive change and optimism are still in our tool kit. Some of the disruptions and adjustments require us to understand the dynamics we are in now, and how we can make things better.
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination”.
– Albert Einstein
One of the best aspects of the breakfast meeting was making my way across London early in the morning, and it was amazing to see the city waking up in the beautiful autumn sunshine. The skyline is truly changing all the time and you can see old merge with the new. It was a bit surreal for me as I walked from St Pauls with the World Reimagined project sculptures dotted around my walk to the Tate Modern. I was aware of the Imagine Project as my friend Vashti Harrison came over earlier this year to prepare her sculpture. The first one I saw is placed in St Pancras Station (which I mentioned last month). However, in the heart of the city, right next to St Paul’s Cathedral, are several sculptures expressing the truth of Capitalism and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. It is a ground level project to showcase the role that the city of London played in this brutal history. It would be great if this is taught in British school in detailed – then we can see “the place the UK can hold in the world when it acknowledges its past and we are when we can give full dignity to all”. It was great to see the World Imagined physical sculptures in Black History Month – and do look at their great website design too.
Despite the amazing view over the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, the briefing provided the facts and analysis which quickly brought me down to the contemporary world. It was interesting to hear the challenges we will be facing now, and some of the long-term predictions for the world for 2050. There has been a lot of uncertainties and shocks that have impacted on the world on recent years – there is hardship and some difficulties that we are experiencing due to geopolitical changes, costs, production and supply chains. It is good to hear about the positive impact that a country can have with immigration too, as people help growth as an economy and society grows. It interesting to hear that some countries are also using Covid control to maintain a sense of order, propaganda and power. The measures and mechanics used to stimulate growth is interesting to hear about as we navigate these difficult times. Perhaps knowing that the economic landscape can be fragile, we can then use more sustainable and shock-resistant measures. Hopefully we can prosper again as we develop, provide and benefit from fair and sensible economic strategies and activities.
Whilst at the Tate Modern, I also had a quick whiz around the main exhibition which was a very large art installation from the Chilean artist Cecilia Vicuna called Brian Forest Quipu. It was great to hear how stories and pieces of traditional significance were woven into fabrics. The narrative, storytelling and poems on the wall were great at highlighting knowledge systems from indigenous cultures. The installation was accompanied with sound and movement – it was truly immersive to get into the zone that the piece has created. It made me think of cultural knowledge systems and forms – from oral history, stories on sculptures, manuscripts, various print and non-print formats. It doesn’t matter where we come from in the world – it seems that there is a natural instinct for the human condition to provide a heritage for our people in the present, and for the future. We must continue to recognise and respect other peoples’ cultures.
Diwali was last weekend. I was invited to visit a Hindu temple in North London for Diwali celebrations last weekend. I also invited friends to my home for dinner to celebrate Diwali with my family. It is different to what I was used to growing up. Here deeyas are contained inside homes or buildings due to the weather. Whilst in the tropics, deeyas can be left lit for hours in the still of the dark night.
It was reassuring to visit the temple with mainly Guyanese diaspora and second generation migrants running and maintaining the programme for the temple. It was good to listen to the teachings and to hear the music and songs (bhajans) from the group. We also were treated to lunch and sweets (Prasad). I like that the temple community now also communicate by digital media to inform each other of upcoming events. There was also a focus on youth lessons and sessions to ensure that the mainly older congregation will have trained or influence the next generation to carry on these religious practices and traditions. Hopefully their imagination will be as vivid as mine, even though years has passed since the elaborate Diwali celebrations I experienced as a child.
At work, I attended a Diwali event hosted at the Alan Turing Institute with the new Caribbean Curator at the British Library giving a talk on her career thus far. It was great to experience this diversity in what is now a multicultural city.
Don’t reinvent. Reimagine.
I am slowly getting more social since the pandemic, and one event which was totally new is a cooking lesson that was a present for my husband. We took a while to book the lesson due to time constraints, but it was great to finally make a night of the lesson. There were various types of world cuisine classes to choose from but it really depended on how many spaces were available and if you can make the dates. The first time I had fresh gnocchi and pesto, it was made by my husband’s cousin in 1995 in Rome, since then it has been one of my favourite dishes. The tutor made us prepare an aubergine and mozzarella starter, homemade gnocchi and zabaglione. For someone who has been around Italians for almost thirty years – it was great to learn about some of the food science of the aubergine, potatoes, eggs, garlic, onions etc – therefore, heard some real wives’ tales from the chef about cooking techniques and structure. At the class, other attendees, tutors and the facility were really good, and I would recommend it. It is just a little far to go more often, and the price is a little more than your average three course meal for two in town. But it really is a great way to learn and hone your creativity – now I can imagine doing a class like this in the heart of Tuscany.
I haven’t been doing many local community events recently apart from looking after some garden plots. I have been busy with my library volunteering most of the time when I am not working. It is still great to walk around my neighbourhood and it always surprises me when I see new shops, creative displays and inspiration activism in my community walkabouts. There is definitely a new feel as there are several new multi-story homes being built in what was considered the outskirts of London only a few of years ago. There seems to be a lot more young professionals around as affordable homes are clumped together near the underground stations, repurposed car parks or any free land. I know we need more homes. It just hope we do not lose the close knit and community feel we had the last 15-20 years, when I became more actively involved in where I live. It is reassuring that even though we are growing in numbers as a place to live in the city – there are still some who believe that we have to look out for each other, and maintain the essence of fellowship and camaradie as we go about our daily normal lives.
Creativity grows out of two things: curiosity & imagination.