Monday, 30 January 2012

Ash J. Lipkin, Editor-in-Chief of The Arbuturian; on the Information Age

I have a terrible memory. We’re talking both short term and long term memory recall. I once forgot where I’d put my glasses and spent ten minutes searching for them, only to glance in the mirror to see that I was wearing them. In the days before BlackBerrys and iPhones and email calendars, I would use post-it notes as memory aids (“You are wearing your glasses”), and I must apologise now because I am probably solely responsible for the devastation of large areas of rainforest due to my incessant note writing (I’m aware that a lot of paper in this country nowadays is FSC regulated and doesn’t come from rainforests, but humour me).

Yet even this didn’t solve the problem, as I would have several notes stuck strategically around my desk, sometimes a few notes layered on top of each other or arranged into the shape of a smiley face or a small elephant, depending on how creative I was feeling at the time, and occasionally a note would come unstuck and slip down behind the desk, only for me to find it a few weeks later and realise that I had forgotten to wish a friend happy birthday, or to collect some dry cleaning, or to board a plane.

Seeing as it’s the 21st century and all that jazz, and I like to think of myself as a thoroughly contemporary chap with all the latest modcons such as electric lighting and a high-voltage kettle and whatnot, the post-it note has now been replaced with my BlackBerry calendar. This is an extension of my brain, and it contains not only all of my meetings and social arrangements, but also smaller mundane reminders such as when to buy some more milk, or to make a reservation at a restaurant, or to board a plane.

I soon realised that if I ever lost my BlackBerry, my entire life would come to a standstill, so I decided to sync the BlackBerry with my email calendar to prevent this; and also to avoid the reoccurrence of a situation whereby I’d arranged to interview a rather notable celebrity but I had only made a note of this in my email calendar, and yes, you guessed it, I wasn’t at my desk that day and because the note wasn’t in my Blackberry too, I stood him up. I have since been blacklisted from most A-list interview opportunities, though I can’t say that my life is any worse because of it.

But now we have a new problem, or rather, a new irritation: the bombardment of information. I will be sitting peacefully at my desk, sipping a cup of coffee and staring at the wall, wondering if I should do some work or perhaps pop out to Selfridges for a spot of important retail therapy, when all of a sudden my BlackBerry will start beeping away, reminding me to board a plane in ten minutes, and no sooner have I silenced the blasted thing will my email calendar start shouting the same information at me. I think you’ll agree this is hardly conducive for peaceful contemplation on a busy working day!

Granted, I now miss fewer plane flights, but my stress levels are probably much higher than they were in the tranquil days of rainforest devastation. So where am I going with all of this? I’ve forgotten…Oh yes, my BlackBerry tells me that I was supposed to be writing about information overload in the technology age. Or technology overload in the information age…

So, it seems that with all these varied forms of communication – email, text, social media, paper aeroplanes with notes written on them (ah yes, another way that I’ve helped to decimate the green areas of the globe) - we are constantly assailed with a myriad of information, and our feeble brains are struggling to store it all. So we rely on those very same technological advancements as extensions of our brains, as ‘digital memory’, if you like, to help manage our increasingly busy and complex lives which are becoming so reliant on gadgets and ‘connectivity’. Technology, and the internet in particular, allows us to access a wealth of information and learning opportunities, as well as increasing the size of our social networks, our business reach and the ways in which we can customise and extend our lives, our homes, our bodies and our minds. It’s all rather dizzying.

But what would happen if we unplugged it all? What would happen if I suddenly flipped a switch and all of your iPhones and iPads and computers suddenly vanished in a puff of smoke? Besides the fact that the insurance industry would collapse, and you’d all be pretty upset with me, and I suppose the stock markets would cease to exist and the electricity grid would go kaput and global communication would be put back into the Dark Ages…actually nothing would happen. We’d all still be here, with food and shelter and water, and if you’ve watched enough episodes of Ray Mears or Bear Grylls, you might have an idea how to build yourself a fire too. The world would be silent, and we’d simply exist, in harmony with nature and the rainforests that are disappearing like those post-it notes down the back of my desk. We’d huddle around the cosy fires in our back gardens, marvelling at the pitch black London sky, able to look up and see the stars for once, and we’d turn to each other, to our friends and loved ones, and we’d say, “Ah, now I get it…this is what life is really about.”

Now, where did I put my glasses…?

Ash J. Lipkin is Editor-in-Chief of The Arbuturian, a magazine for the foodie, the stylish, the explorer, the artistic, the culturist, and the idler:

Monday, 23 January 2012

Elinor Olisa of on Hockney's current show The Bigger Picture

The excitement surrounding Hockney's 'Bigger Picture' solo show extravaganza is reaching fever pitch as art critics from around the world release their reviews following their sneak peek at this undoubtedly landmark exhibition.

It is highly amusing to me, as a curator of an online gallery, that I will be more likely to view this must see exhibition on a computer screen than on the walls of the Royal Academy as its almost impossible to get through on the ticket hotlines.

I bet Hockney would approve of people looking at his work online as he often refers to his fascination with technology. Like so many of us today, Hockney used his iPad to plan and prepare for his big presentation.

Hockney sketched 'The Arrival of Spring, East Yorkshire' on his Apple tablet. This combined with his employment of cameras, mounted on Jeeps Google Earth style, to capture the Yorkshire landscape’s changing seasons, has cemented him as a pioneer of our digital era. (You can view the result of his ground breaking 'multipartite' film created for the BBC's Country File program, here).

The paintings I have glimpsed online and in print achieve an admirable feat for UK tourism giving you a yearning to visit Yorkshire. Hockney’s frequent referral to his admiration of Post-Impressionist painter Van Gogh, explains much of his life’s ambition to encapsulate a snapshot of time - be it LA or Bridlington - on his canvases by layering more than just imagery onto the surfaces resulting in truly tangible viewing experience for the viewer.

I have been trying to put my finger on what it is that makes Hockney, a man in his 70s, so attractive to so many and such an inspiration to the emerging artists I work with. I wonder if it is his ability to get us to pay greater attention to the world around us using traditional techniques effortlessly and unquestioningly combined with the latest technology - a feat that should leave many a tech entrepreneur quaking in their boots. After seeing his work you are left compelled to examine and appreciate your own 3D landscapes through Hockney tinted glasses.

The fundamental consequence of this exhibition for me personally is a combination of the fact he makes it OK for artists to use technology to enhance their practice and the eternal legitimacy it has provided for the enjoyment and benefits achievable from viewing fine art online. This has been achieved by the exhibition of his on-pad sketched on multiple iPad screens.

I believe that this exhibition will be the artist's most successful ever not only because of the huge appetite our nation has developed for blockbuster exhibitions or because he is a proper artist painting proper landscapes en plein air (outside) but because he captures and preserves moments of our times successfully merging techniques of old with those of right now.

I am ending this review with sneaky hand of crossed fingers behind my back praying that I manage to reserve my tickets (perhaps I'll abandon the phone and try booking online this time) and also thinking - gosh - a good old fashioned artist using an iPad - Brilliant!

Some examples of Hockney-inspired Degree artist’s work: is an innovative company selling, renting and commissioning the finest art work created by the students and recent graduates emerging from the most prestigious art establishments.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Guest blogger: Felice Hardy of welove2ski ... on snow

Travel writing is my business but skiing was where it all began. I first put on a pair skis in Switzerland at the age of four and gradually became so hooked that I later found I had to make my living out of it.

The first time I fell in love was in Obergurgl in Austria. I was seven years old and his name was Walter. He was my ski instructor and seemed ancient at 25. My heart broke when I had to fly home without him. Next year I was back again, but by then Walter had moved on to Squaw Valley in California. Another instructor, Pepi, swiftly replaced him in my affections.

And my heart is still in skiing today. I have been to hundreds of resorts – from well-known destinations in Austria and France to lesser-known villages in Japan and Chile. I have skied fresh deep powder in winter and on sunny glaciers in summer, and I am never bored.

It’s the reason why I enjoy my job as co-editor of the ski information website Every day is different and every skiing year varies enormously. No more so than this season, which started in late November without a flake of the white stuff. “Snow drought!” The newspapers yelled. But they were wrong.

Within a week the skies dumped bucketfuls of snow on the worryingly brown Alps. By Christmas more snow had fallen in France’s Three Valleys than during the whole of last season.

At other resorts across the Alps similar records were broken – and still the snow continues to fall. High resorts such as St Anton, Zermatt and Val d’Isère have been cut off from civilization for days at a time; even if there wasn’t a drop more snow all season they’d still have enough to last until April.

It’s the best start to a European winter in a generation – maybe two generation –  and a huge boost to the British ski industry in these hard times. For a decade, global warming experts have spouted gloom and doom. But the storms in early January have made a travesty of it.

It can all be viewed on my website, which has some of the most accurate snow and weather maps on the internet. They're produced exclusively for us by the Swiss forecasting service meteoblue, and are based on cutting-edge NASA technology. It's complex stuff that allows us to make precise predictions, and we run two forecasts daily.

But welove2ski isn’t just about weather forecasts. ‘No bull no bias’ is our motto. It’s a specialist website loaded with independent information compiled by acknowledged experts for all things in skiing and snowboarding. There are detailed reports on over 100 ski resorts, equipment and fashion, fitness, ski news and competitions. All of it is a vital tool to help people enjoy what is surely shaping up to be the best Alpine ski season ever.

Felice Hardy is editor of, an independent guide to skiing and ski holidays.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Guest Blogger: Susie Pearl, writer, coach and mentor, talks about the promises of a new year

Well, hello there 2012. Are we going to be friends?

I’m not really a big fan of Christmas. It’s lovely to soak up a sense of ‘good cheer’ but in general it often ends up feeling more stressful and hectic rather than full of peace and glad tidings.


For me, it’s the bringing in of the New Year that lights up my imagination. I love the change and a sense of transition into the new. 2012 is tipped as a powerful year of planetary shifts and has been predicted by the mystics to be the year when change kicks in and major transitions take place. Let’s see what unfolds...

This brand new year feels full of promise. A sense of optimism sweeps like a new broom. It’s a new blank canvas where all mistakes and regrets of the year gone by can be swept away under the carpet with a good kick and we can press the ‘reset’ button to start afresh and begin over again, with new rules and new balls in the life game.

Whether that’s true or just imagined, it doesn’t really matter. What I do believe is that this year will be a time of major transition for the planet. There will be some very big changes where we’ll all have to look at things differently. The way we live, how we consume, the way we think and the way we handle the planet’s resources. We are going to have to face some big questions and come up with some answers fast, in order to cope with some of the effects we are seeing in our bio-sphere, culture, banking, economic systems and food chains.

Some friends and I were talking on New Years Eve about what we would do if knew that we were only going to be around for a short time. A lively debate followed with some common themes. All involved us slowing down, taking time out, doing more simple activities, living more from the heart and being more attentive to those we love.


Here’s a list of the top 10 things that people said that they would do differently if they lived life over again:

1. Spend more time with friends and family, and spend a lot less time worrying about things we had little control over.

2. To realise that happiness is within us and is a choice. We can choose to be happy whatever is going on around us. To feel happy ever day and to make a point of living life this way.

3. To take time out regularly to really talk, listen, engage and laugh out loud.

4. Realise that the world doesn’t stop if we stop working. To work less and live more.

5. Take time out to tell others how much we love them. To express our gratitude for the good things and boost our appreciation of the simple natural things in life that make life so good. To slow down and appreciate it all.

6. To smile more, laugh at ourselves and drop the inner critic.

7. Get healthier and look after our bodies – doing some physical activity every day with enjoyment and to eat fresh uplifting food.

8. Take a walk in nature each day and breathe in the air. To notice the incredible beauty of nature. Reduce the days spent indoors staring at computer screens.

9. Be kinder to ourselves, forgive others' mistakes, and make an effort to build stronger communities with kindness being a central part of the infrastructure.

10. To live a bigger life where we step out of the safety and the sameness of our daily lives and head for some big new adventures and take a few risks to experience more in this vast world.

Maybe this is the year for just one simple resolution: to cut out the boring bits, get happier and cram in a lot more fun. That’s my plan for the year. How about you?

Happy 2012

Susie Pearl is a writer, coach and mentor to successful entrepreneurs, musicians, actors, artists and creative people around the world. She ran her own international celebrity brand PR agency and a personal enhancement training business with Paul McKenna and NLP founder, Dr Richard Bandler. She now runs seminars, courses and personal training in her unique reality creation system.

Instructions for Happiness and Success by Susie PearL (Quadrille, £12.99) is published on 5th January 2012.

For more information, visit