Friday, November 6, 2015

Misty morning webs

DSC06472Last Sunday dawned a wintery damp Berkshire morning,  thick fog and chill streets.  I stepped out, bundled up in the still morning air, to forage for coffee and croissants.  The last of the autumn leaves are dropping off the lowest branches, gold and scarlet leaves spread a sodden skirt across the sidewalk beneath.  A couple of dog-walkers emerge from the mist, nod an acknowledgement, then hurry on.

Whilst taking a few pictures of the neighborhood through the mist, I noticed that the spiders had been busy overnight (it was Halloween, after all), their webs a cottony white accent on most of the bushes and trees.

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The mist left dewdrops that actually outlined the webs very nicely.  So, it seemed worth some experiments with the camera to see what I might be able to capture.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

London Lights: art and architecture

DSC06502Another busy day, with planning sessions over lunch and an evening reception for the new Cambridge class.  Between the two, I had a few hours to burn so I wandered over to the White Cube, ‘a project room for contemporary art’ near the Shard in London.  This month, they are showcasing light sculptures by American artist Robert Irwin and Welsh conceptualist Cerith Wyn Evans.

Both men are exhibiting illuminated works exploring light and colour, installations which the gallery embeds in large, open spaces.  I think that the result is a better complement to Wyn Evans’ works than Irwin’s, but it’s a good chance to compare the two.

The dim empty rooms, the somber opposed vertical lines, made Irwin’s 2 x 2 x 2 x 2 look dull and geometric to me. As a leading artist of the Light and Space movement, he’s created lots of bright engaging works, I wonder whether his sculpture is better suited to Irwin 2x2x2x2viewing outdoors against urban and natural landscapes. 

Inside, it was difficult to evoke connection and feeling from the works.  Standing between red and green markers in the twilight, I was only reminded of sailing the last leg home up a channel in chill late evening.

Wyn Evans used his room to better effect, displaying large tangled sculptures suspended above a polished floor.  A muted industrial soundtrack and potted palms gave the works some context to play off of.  It was fun just walking around the area, looking at light and shadow, the superposition of flowing lines and rigid geometry.

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Outside, dusk had fallen as I headed across London Bridge to the reception atop Riverside House.  The evening light was perfect in Hay's Galleria, along the Thames Path, and from the 9th floor balcony. 

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Tonight, the light felt better embedded in large, open outdoor spaces, reflecting off water and sky, than in any enclosed gallery.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Building the business

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My week started with dawn coffee at Nero’s, as it so often does.  An early, solitary train ride or drive, an hour’s meetings, a few calls and emails, scribbled notes, then back on the road.

Our week started with two days of all-company meetings to assess progress and adjust plans.  We have to hit three milestones: Finalize design, Establish manufacture, and Gain regulatory approval.  Way-stations to achieving in-market product and revenue goals, I need people to hit these within months, within budget.

The actual work flows through a landscape of knowledge and resources that is ever-changing.  Progress requires threading the opportunities and constraints caused by changes in people, locations, and requirements.  These meetings, listening, assessing, re-aligning and motivating are key to completing the project.

DSC06491 (1024x683)But a friend / consultant also recommended that I also take the opportunity to address the business as well as the program, focused on solving two structural problems. 

If I were to ask investors, employees, or Board members some big picture questions, would they have consistent or correct answers?  What is the company in business to do?  How did it start? What do we want it to become?  Do we have a plan, confidence, optimism for overcoming issues and succeeding?  And what is success, for us:  What does the company look like two years from now?  I know the answers, but we should share, discuss, and build on those.

Who do people know in the business?  We are a virtual company, with widely scattered employees, contactors, and suppliers.  Our Board meets by phone; our investors are Angels who receive quarterly updates.   But their contact with the company is very personal and individual: contact with me.  I know that the company is much deeper, we have great people, physical tools, and supportive investors.  They should all come together in one place and meet one another.  So, as we set up our new physical site this month, we’ll also invite people in to touch the product, meet the staff, and see the progress being made.

DSC06493 (1024x683)So we brought in absolutely everyone, talked about the company as well as the project, and passed around the glossy brochure depicting our new site.  We argued about what we know and what we need to know to get product to patients.  We all went to dinner together, said good-bye to people leaving and welcomed new staff.

It’s a good transition, just like when we passed from being a group of founders with an idea, to being a Company with Articles and a Board.  I feel like we have larger goals and deeper connections now than just what I provide. 

It’s a bit of a father’s pride: we want our creations to grow up to be healthy, happy, independent, and successful.

I’m fortunate: Mine are.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Around the southern Peak District

DSC06412 (1024x681)The lower portion of the Peak District National Park is less rugged than the dark, moor-ish north.  It’s mostly farms, forests, and villages, better suited to eating and browsing.  All routes from Buxton lead through Bakewell, where the ranger could recommend loops and villages.

The weather had deteriorated further, cold rain and fog.  No point in scaling the heights again, so we meandered through towns and turn-outs. 

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DSC06402 (683x1024)One highlight was Chesterfield, a venerable market town best know for the Crooked Spire atop the parish church.  The story goes that the tower was built from green wood, which sagged as it dried.  Another blames the tens of tons of lead applied to coat the spire.  It seems stable, if alarmingly offset, one of four similar spires in the UK (compared with 65 in France and 22 in Germany).

In any case, it makes for lovely pictures.

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Otherwise, it was an afternoon of driving east-west through the hills.  We forded a flooded road, explored the not-quite-a-village of Tissington, played a game of skittles with locals in the pub (pitching big wooden balls at a diamond of pins).

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It’s all sort of bucolic and peaceful, a nice weekend’s change from the busy-ness of London and points south.  On a return, I’d likely head further north to hike the moors and peaks, but return south for dinner and telling stories.

More pictures, as always, at my Flickr site.