My Step-Dad is a Spy!

Shooting people in Thailand

I lay awake, before day-break, listening to the early adopters of the dawn chorus that was coming. It was Good-Friday. A long weekend lay ahead.


I had been musing for an hour or so already. When my wife Daf finally woke, a couple of hours later, I greeted her with: “I’m going to write a book.”


I heard the eyeballs roll. The utterance that followed was: “Oh God!” – here we go again remained unsaid but was no less heart felt.


A few things had prompted the decision.


The first was an invitation to join the fellowship of the Royal Society of Art. This was flattering and confusing. I had spoken at a meeting of the body the weekend before but had not really considered myself worthy.


The second was a feedback meeting with the British Council, who had funded me on a recent trip to Kenya. In discussion there was a thrown-away comment. They had been considering whether my work was ‘art’ or not. This triggered much thought!


Then one of my companies, the participatory film laboratory Peoples Voice (largely dormant as a company over the years, but active as a motivation and working ethic in my other business) commemorated 10 years since it was launched.

Peoples Voice: Giving expression for over 10 years

The other was that Orla, my step-daughter, had asked Daf what it was that I actually did!!  She had said I was always in meetings, sometimes got dressed up, flew to random countries for inexplicably short periods of time and she’d heard me talking about shooting people!!


When the conversation was relayed to me, I told her “I’m a SPY!”


I had been re-evaluating anyway. I was cataloguing Vimeo and the hundreds of films I had made since leaving mainstream broadcasting in 2004. And I had begun the process of re-modelling PEOPLES VOICE too.


We had started to think that company deserved more prominence, as advocacy and empowerment have increasingly dominated my thinking as I have got more experienced as a communicator.


But for now, I had to press ‘pause’ on that and examine what it is that I do, have done and will be doing in the light of the challenging question: “Is it ART?”


Join me in the coming weeks as I consider this question!

















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