Thoughts

Laying on the floor at St Sepulchre’s while I was setting up my show, Baptised by Blood, I had a thought…

I want to live in a church
Churches that aren’t churches anymore are sad
I want to live at a church
I should live in a vicarage
I need to marry a vicar
Is a vicar the same as a pastor?
I want to live in a church

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Rublev by Rowan Williams

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,

slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,

said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

 

I said, Here is the blood of all our people,

these are their bruises, blue and purple,

gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

 

These (god) are the chromatic pains of flesh,

I said, I trust I shall make you blush,

O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

 

For ever, I shall root you in the wood,

under the sun shall bake you bread

of beechmast, never let you forth

 

To the white desert, to the starving sand.

But we shall sit and speak around

one table, share one food, one earth.


Yes, yes, yes. My heart and my blood and my tears cry yes.

The Vision 2.0

Back in March while I was in the 24-7 Prayer room I wrote my own version of The Vision.

Today I am feeling exceptionally low. I am tired and I have nothing left to give- and a lot left to do. I’m in a place where I’m not convinced dream chasing is all it’s cracked up to be. Swan diving into the unknown is easy (for me). Landing and climbing the next mountain is so hard. And it’s even harder when you live 5000 miles from your mom.

Anyway, I reread my vision tonight. I suppose I still stand by it, but I am becoming seriously concerned about the cost. Can’t I be both extraordinary and ordinary? Can I be an expert and an innovator in my field, can I have a big airy studio in a cottage with a mortgage and a partner and a family? If I can’t have it all I’m not convinced I want any of it.

I understand now why not so many people chase their dreams. Dream chasing is really freaking hard. It’s exhausting and it’s lonely, and it’s scary.


What is the Vision?

The Vision is Spirit. It’s art.

The Vision is art that moves. Art that brings glory to His name. Art that breaks down barriers. Breaks down the walls between art & God & fashion & culture. Art that inspires and defines. Art that is intelligent.

(The spirit in me. Moving me. Making me. Driving my ideas.)

The vision is a spacious white studio with lots of windows & a big table & large format Epson printer. The Vision is not held back by earthly things. By bureaucracy or by lack of funding & resources.

The Vision is multimedia art installations driven by photography & washed in the Spirit. The Vision is exhibitions that give life & change life.

The Vision does not follow the rules. It is loved & reviled across media & spheres of culture. Hated by churches, loved by critics. Loved by Christians, hated by bloggers. Moving between spheres of influence as easily & seamlessly as changing clothes.

The Vision is success & visibility but in love & humility. The Vision can handle attention & bad press. The Vision gives all the work & the glory & the pain to God.

The Vision works hard. Loves hard. Gives everything.

The Vision is fulfilling.

The Vision is not alone.

(The Vision is probably really messy.)

The Vision & a prayer

Several months ago I was asked to write a short article about my somewhat extraordinary experience with 24/7 Prayer. It was never published, so here you go…

Summer 2001. Youth With a Mission, Ensenada, Mexico: It was the first night of a youth group mission trip. A British guy came on stage and shared ‘The Vision’. He said it came out of London, but no one really knew much about it. The words on that crumpled up piece of paper with the MSN logo at the top seared my brain and my heart. They changed my life. They made my palms sweat and my eyes water. At that moment I wanted to leap from my chair and sing, and shout… and yell… and get a tattoo. From that moment on I was different.

Fast forward a twelve years and I’ve just moved to London from California. I don’t know very many people but I’m determined to build a life in the city I’ve been drawn to my whole life. Happenstance and a Google glitch brought me to the youth service at HTB my second week in London. I stood awkwardly on my own waiting for the service to start when Bill Cahusac spotted me and made me feel welcome. Later that week the Cahusac family invited me over for supper where I regaled them with my life story. When I got to the part about ‘The Vision’ Bill stopped me— “You know my boss, Pete Grieg, wrote that?”

And suddenly the last twelve years make sense. The twelve years of trials and disappointments. The twelve years it took me to achieve my dream of moving to London. God was there all along. God’s plan was in motion.

I did not choose 24-7 Prayer, God chose it for me. Spending an hour in a room praying sounds intimidating, but from the first time I walked into the prayer hut in July, I wanted to hunker down and stay forever. Though we can pray from anywhere, to walk into this space is to walk where fellow soldiers of the faith, fighters of the good fight, feeble criers of desperation and earnest seekers of Truth have walked. It is a safe place where walls come down and insecurities lose their sting; where inner monologue quiets enough to let the Lord speak clearly. Stepping into the Prayer Hut is like being enveloped in a warm soft blanket on the couch at God’s feet. Something I desperately need, and have long been searching for. 

I’ve been making my way towards this place for a dozen years and I am so thankful to have finally arrived. I’ve come home.

On Shia.

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A couple weeks ago my course leader arranged a symposium for our Fashion Spectacle class. A handful of people in various parts of the industry came and spoke with us about their exeroences. About halfway through the day he said that we would be Skyping with UAL alum Nastja Säde Rönkkö and that she had a performance piece for us.
When the Skype call started we were all shocked to see Shia LeBeouf’s face pop up on the big screen! Afterward I learned that a few people thought it must have been a video. He introduced himself and then began reading from Guy DuBord’s The Society of Spectacle. It took a couple of minutes for me to catch onto what he was reading and to get my head wrapped around what was happening. To be honest it was hard to pay attention and not immediately start texting and tweeting about it!
It was a really interesting and exciting experience. I feel lucky that I got to experience it first hand and I am very thankful to our course leader for arranging it. We’ve been talking about how spectacle is built into our society and how necessarily fashion- particularly fashion photography- fit into that. Of course Shia is not a fashion photographer, but he is the best possible person to explore this concept of spectacle with. Because he is a well known celebrity his mere presence makes him a spectacle- the media attention and his ‘antics’ make the spectacular nature of his existence even more pronounced and obvious. However, to make it more interesting, the text he was reading decries the society of spectacle that we live in and his presentation was utterly boring and void of spectacle as it were. It was early morning in LA, he was dressed very casually, drinking coffee and reading to a bunch of students a text they should have already read. The spectacle ceases to be spectacular… But then one remembers again who he is and he just keeps reading and reading and reading for ages and the whole thing circles back around to being utterly spectacular.
The whole experience is a bit of a mind bender. Is he a brilliant artist? Or is he a wannabe cavorting with great artists? We might never know, but I absolutely love participating in the conversation.

Best. Week. Ever.

To say I’ve had a big week might be an understatement.

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Last Sunday night I went with some of my all time favourite Londoners to a secret Prince show in Shepard’s Bush where we got in for free. Prince?! For free?! Spectacular! The gig was freaking awesome and seeing a legend like Prince felt like participating in history. Plus, it was an awesome adventure with my friends. THEN we saw Funk Legend George Clinton walk into a kebab shop down the street… and suddenly we were all hungry. We went into the shop and got to talk to and take photos with him. SUCH an amazing night- especially because it was completely spur of the moment.

On Monday morning I started a new job at Univeristy- it went really well. I think it’s going to be a great fit!

On Wednesday the digital news editor of Dazed & Confused Magazine found my tweet about Shia LeBeauf doing a Skype performance for my class last week (yeah, that happened, too!) and asked to interview me. A few hours later… Dazed posted my interview. WHAT. Someone wanted to talk to me about something I am super interested in and publish my opinions!? It’s a dream come true.

On Friday I had all access to four London Fashion Week shows to photograph backstage and the shows. An actual dream come true. (!!!!!) It was a fantastic,exhausting, exciting, wonderful, rainy day. I loved it. I got to photograph some British celebrities and some really, really beautiful clothing (and people). And if that wasn’t enough, LOVE Magazine posted a photo of me shooting backstage at the Todd Lynn show!!! 

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On Saturday, amidst all my editing (runway shows = deadlines) I went to a Fashion for Christ prayer meeting at Somerset House, where most of the shows are. It was so so good to connect with people there! I then stayed up all night editing before heading back to LFW!

ImageToday I shot a show for a designer I hadn’t heard of, but while I was waiting for the show to start Lynn Yaeger walked in! That might not sound exciting, but she’s just one of the real fashion personalities! She’s been a staple in the American fashion press (Vogue!!) for ages and has a very distinctive look. I love her and I got to photograph her!!

I ended the best week ever back where it started: in the pub after church with the best people ever. All the amazing and wonderful and fun and exciting things happening in my life would be nothing if I didn’t have people to share it with.

London. Londoners… I love you.

“You make beautiful things out of the dust.” Gungor

I’ve been in London for just over four months. I am completely, utterly, fantastically, miraculously happy and in love with this city. Every morning feels a bit like Christmas and I regularly find myself looking out the bus window/coming out of the underground/walking out my front door and just marveling at this life I lead.

Albert Bridge LondonI expected to love it here (why would I move 5,000 miles otherwise!?), what I didn’t expect is for it to be so good. I didn’t expect to find the most amazing church and meet the MOST wonderful people so fast. What I didn’t expect was to see the hard things of the last several years (YWAM, my road trip, Haiti) to suddenly fall into place and make sense. What I didn’t expect is for God to “repay [me] for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). I didn’t expect restoration and such complete joy.

(I am, however, expecting winter to kick my ass.)

Today I started my graduate program at London College of Fashion. Today I was encouraged to blog and explore and collaborate, and ask questions, and to embrace life in London by the best dressed faculty in the world (probably). This week is induction week, so I won’t get to the brass tacks of my program for a couple weeks yet, but I am so excited to be here and to be embarking on this journey here and now. I plan to embrace it with every fiber of my being.

I can’t believe this is my real life.