– for everywhere I go I am reminded of guitar playing –
Decided to put the old box away, close the lid, and escape for the day. I spent it seeking out experiences totally unrelated to guitar playing, and yet the more different, the more I was reminded. I mean, how can having tea in a bookshop and visiting the Orla Kiely Ladies’ Clothes Shop in Convent Garden bring me back to the guitar? Well, it did and to the art of music itself too.
Orla Kiely’s modestly called Ladies’ Clothes Shop contains a lot more than clothes. Situated in Monmouth Street, next to the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden district it provides an aesthetically unified experience. Hats, coats, shoes, wallets, umbrellas, stationery, books, kitchen and bedroom furniture are all given the treatment. Gentle, geometric patterns, at the same time both abstract and feminine, are everywhere. In her beautiful book Pattern she wrote of how she is inspired by the sheer quality and inventiveness expressed in print of the mid 20th century. She admits to “a particular nostalgic affection for the patterns of the 1960s and 1970s.”
Walking into the shop means stepping away from now, back into a recent age, dressed up for today. Every nook and cranny has been considered carefully and treated to her patterned design, not just the merchandise but also the wooden floors, the ceilings, the walls and the window.
OK, so what has that to do with music and the guitar? The connection lies in the attention to detail, the displays unified by a common theme, the exquisite finish, the harmony of style and motifs. I am almost using musical language itself to describe the impression caused upon me. Consider and reflect on these four aspects: are they not what we seek to achieve or experience in music? That is why, my perusal of Kiely’s shop interior so vividly reminded me of the guitar, music and my aspirations.
Tea in the bookshop was another matter. One of the great pleasures of buying books today in cities like London and New York, is to find a café bar and comfortable sitting areas within the same four walls. You have to do no more than arise from your seat and stroll around the perimeter, pick a book, take it back to your table, and decide whether to buy it while you partake of refreshments. Thus it follows that books about music were at the reach of my outstretched hand, with my eyes inevitably scanning the shelves for unsuspected new publications centred on the guitar.
And so ended my pleasant day, which started as an escape, but developed into a series of surprising and stimulating reminders of music itself.
8th February 2015, London