Cape Times

The vital role of the artist’s chair and more


THINK LIKE AN ARTIST – Will Gompertz, R199

Penguin Books

THINK Like an Artist... and Lead a More Creative, Productive Life. So promises the title of Will Gompertz’s new book.

It has been, he says, “a while in gestation. Maybe all my adult life” – running from his early years as a stage-hand at Sadler’s Wells to his recent encounters with artists like David Hockney and JJ Abrams in his role as BBC Arts Editor.

Each of the 10 chapters is a rule: In “Artists Pause for Thought”, Gompertz says: “If you visit an artist’s studio there is one object you are pretty much guaranteed to see. It might be tucked away… the artist’s much-loved but often battered old chair.”

There’s more – a whole chapter. “It has a higher calling, which is to play a vital role in the creative process.”

It’s not just chairs, artists’ plates are examined, too.

When Gompertz went to visit Kerry James Marshall, the artist’s wife, actress Cheryl Lynn Bruce, asked: “Did I want a slice of her freshly made cake? Yes I did.

She pointed up to a shelf of plates above the sink.

“Choose one,” she said… And then explained that she collects plates, but only ever one of any type.

It was up to the guest to decide which one would be theirs for their stay.

“We’re not robots,” she said. “Life is more exciting when you have an opinion.”

But what of the great artists’ towels and duvets? That’s for the next book, I imagine. – The Independen­t

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