Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do? Where have you been spending lock down?
I’m Steve. I’m an artist, writer and speaker. I make art, write books and blogs and am host of the world’s first silent podcast featuring special guests (www.soundofsilence.org.uk)
I’ve been spending lockdown at home in Surrey with my wife, daughter and dog, although I’ve spent the vast majority of time on my own in my little studio that I have since renamed The Art Bunker.
How’s lockdown been for you?
It was a lockdown of two halves for me. The first 6 weeks of the first lockdown were a joy. Even though all my paid gigs got cancelled I felt liberated from all of the adult “oughts” and “shoulds” that I didn’t realise worried me on a day-to-day basis which meant I was free to just mess about making stuff all day. I was getting up early and full of energy. Then, for no real reason, it flipped. I felt trapped, depressed, anxious and had no energy whatsoever. (I wrote an article about this for fellow member Mark Shayler’s website.)
When we were in the weird in-between space of eased-lockdown I felt in a far more balanced frame of mind – neither manically euphoric, nor utterly despondent. A load of old projects and ideas died during lockdown, but many new and exciting ones were born too.
On February 1st, I begin a huge annual project called “What the February” on Instagram. It’s a daily weird and wonky creative challenge. Last year hundreds of people around the world took part and this year it’s going to be even bigger. I’d love to see House of St Barnabas members take part – hopefully it should give everyone something to do and look forward to in February too. To take part, follow me on Instagram and use the hashtag #wtfeb
What’s something you’ve learned about yourself (or the world) over the last few months?
In those first six weeks I discovered an amazing freedom within constraint that helped me realise that, before lockdown, I experienced daily constraint within “freedom”. Lockdown has helped me realise even more that worrying about stuff that I have little or no influence over doesn’t help in the slightest which has liberated my imagination to do other things. “Worry is a misuse of the imagination” is one of my favourite quotes.
What have you missed most about the House? What do you look forward to getting back to?
As I don’t live in London I have missed both the House and the city. I miss not bumping into people I wasn’t intending to bump into and chatting to them for hours. And whilst I don’t miss the train into Waterloo I really miss the city. I’d normally be in London at least twice a week and, as I walk everywhere, it is a huge source of inspiration and ideas for me.
If you could have a drink with one person (real or imaginary) at our bar, who would it be?
Real or imaginary? How about dead? I guess that counts as real. My art and music hero was the late Daniel Johnston. I was due to record a podcast with him in Autumn 2019 but sadly he died just three weeks before I was due to fly out, so I never got to meet him. He’s been such an influence on me, and I’d like to tell him that. So, Daniel Johnston would be my ideal. Ideally when he’s having a good day but even if not, that would be magical.
Say hello to me to talk about…
I am a natural introvert and really shy so, even at the age of 47 I find it difficult to introduce myself to others but I love meeting new people and having conversations around counter-culture, the arts, philosophy, what it means to be human and anything else in between. I find really interested people really interesting so tell me what you’re interested in and I’ll find it fascinating.
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