Ellsworth Kelly: Abstraction in ‘‘Austin’’

This December marks the third anniversary of Ellsworth Kelly’s death. The great artist’s legacy remains - he is one of the greatest exponents of colour and minimalism in the modern era. And this year, that legacy became stronger with the opening of his first and only ever building ‘‘Austin.’’

Opened in February 2018 on the grounds of the University of Texas, ‘‘Austin’’ is one of Kelly’s final pieces of work. That it’s Kelly’s cannot be mistaken - geometric shapes used for abstraction, a collection of primary, secondary and tertiary colours and the use of light and shadows for maximum affect are all traits of the artist’s work.

Pictures of its interior are rare, but granite floors, black and white marble panels and the use of cavernous spaces all make for astonishing viewing - with the reflections transporting the mind to another universe (so visitor’s say).

As with all of Kelly’s work (see below) it’s beauty is in its perceived simplicity, and this is a fitting finale to a great artist’s life. If you’re in Texas anytime soon, do yourself a favour and pay ‘‘Austin’’ a visit.

Photos 1 and 3 of ‘‘Austin’’ courtesy of Victoria Sambunaris. Other artists unknown. 

The Importance Of Doing Nothing

The purpose of this piece is simple. To ask that you consider taking some time to invest in simply doing nothing … what you might find though, is that doing nothing, despite helping to deliver a good night’s sleep and other health benefits is not as easy as it may seem.

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The importance of being busy.
Through the 90’s and 2000’s, doing nothing became derided. Globalisation gathered pace, no part of the world was unable to be discovered and access to information, about everything, was becoming but a click or a swipe away.

Email, surfing the web, online shopping, blogging, online dating, social media … our lives have become so online and integrated that the lines have been blurred between work and pleasure, and our lives, like our technology, is becoming increasingly integrated. How do we know this? We see just how many of our orders go to work addresses, and not personal ones ;).

Tim Kreider’s infamous New York Times piece “The Busy Trap”  seems to capture it best -

‘If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are. It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing: “Busy!” “So busy.” “Crazy busy.” … Almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t either working or doing something to promote their work.’

But fast forward, and 2020 is on our doorstep, and all of a sudden doing nothing might just be the next big thing …

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“Does screen time before bed affect your sleep?”

This is one of the most common questions Mike, my partner and co-founder, and I get asked. The simple answer is -

“Yes. Screen time before bed affects your sleep dramatically.”

Scientific research is continuing to reinforce this commonly held belief. Photons, the elementary particle that essentially carry light, project from your screens, through your retina and trigger a chemical reaction that prevents the production of Melatonin, the chemical that induces sleep. The less Melatonin produced, the less likely you are to fall asleep … easy concept.

But it’s not just screen time that affects sleep. Our brains and minds are wired constantly. When was the last time you sat back and simply did nothing? Not watching TV, not conversing, not eating or drinking, not thinking about the past or the future and not getting lost in thought (and then snapping back into the present, only to judge your thoughts)?

For many of us, we don’t think about doing nothing. We are often lost in thought. In fact a recent Harvard study found that people spend 47% of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing, and this mind-wandering typically makes them unhappy.

We can’t find the time to do nothing. But increasingly, the benefits of doing nothing, but focussing on the present (think mindfulness or meditation) is proving to be an important part of strong mental health and ensuring a good nights sleep.

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