Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Meeting with an Artist; John Wind, Jewellery Designer

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You may have read the article I published last week about the beautiful modern vintage jewellery created by John Wind Maximal Art. If you did, you will know that I am now a big fan.

So imagine my reaction when Philadelphia-based John Wind, having read my post, asked if he could meet up with me during his visit to London this week. Well, I jumped at the chance.

He loved my article (oh my god) and apparently he sent copies of it to all his Sales Reps. Near heart attack does not sufficiently sum up how I was feeling when I learnt this.

But anyway, on to the subject in hand. Little ol’ me met with John Wind for coffee and chats in The Orange on Pimlico Road on Monday.

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And well, what can I say? It was pretty amazing! John Wind is literally the most charming, gentle, interesting, intelligent, friendly, complimentary and calming gentleman I have ever met. The experience was utterly delightful.

Now, I am a very excitable kind of person. Even in ordinary circumstances I am fairly puppy-like. So I was pretty much in a complete frenzy, which I hope I managed to hide, by the time it came for us to meet. John, however, managed to put me at ease from the moment I laid eyes on him. Now when it comes to me, that’s a skill!

He was dressed in a classic shirt and jeans and he looked fresh and clean and beautifully turned out with a friendly smile and deep brown eyes! I LOVED him, can you tell?!

Apart from the fact that I don’t often have the opportunity to chat to American people, which at first made me very aware of his accent, I soon felt like I had known him for an age! I know that sounds like a cliché but it’s true! OK, I promise to be less melodramatic from here on in.

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John was visiting London so that he could attend the Thouron Awards 50th Anniversary Gala held at Hampton Court Palace on Saturday 26th June. The Thouron Awards is the British-American exchange programme though which John won a scholarship to study Art in London. The program was set up to bring “young people of exceptional ability from each country into contact with the ideas and peoples of another country”. As John put it, the event was “celebrating half a century of Anglo-American exchange, scholarship, and friendship’. And here we were, developing these transatlantic relationships, just without the ‘exceptional ability’ on my part! Mmmm...

We chatted about lots of different things; how sometimes people from different countries can almost be like different species, the wonders of modern technology, about how English people often have an undeniable urge to put themselves down, and Gay teen sci-fi fiction! (Odd yes but a visit to John’s brother’s site leewind.org will explain that one). It wasn’t long before I was telling him my whole life story. Oh no! Did I just go on about myself the entire time!!? I can get a bit carried away you know!

In between talking about me (!), we discussed how the Maximal Art creative process has evolved throughout the 25 years they have been in business. And business is the key word here. John Wind is an artist in essence, but in order to keep his art alive and share it with the world, he has had to become a businessman. I got the impression that reconciling the art and the business has been somewhat a challenge. But he has reconciled it beautifully, helped by Robin Cook, the company’s President for whom he clearly has a deep respect. He has fully embraced the ‘art of business’ in the best possible taste.

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And then suddenly, without any warning, John produced a beautiful little package and presented me with a gift! Now remembering that I am an excitable person, I hope you’ll forgive when I tell you that I instantly leapt up and hugged him! John commented that I hadn’t even opened it yet so I gathered that he wasn’t quite ready for my impulsive, excited, over- reaction. It’s not my fault...I love pressies! So I opened it and it was the most beautiful pearl coil bracelet personalised with an ‘R’ for ‘Ree’ on a bold, gold disc. Once again that beautiful fusion of the past and the present; classic and funky; traditional yet edgy. I LOVED IT. I leapt up and hugged him. AGAIN! I really could have cried but I think I managed to style that out. I wonder whether he noticed?

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Before I knew it, it was time to leave. I actually crossed over with a lovely lady named Sarah who John was seeing for lunch. He had a lot of people to fit in before he flew to Germany the following day. Sarah, who was also wearing her John Wind Maximal Art bracelet, was one of the first people John met when he came to study at the Slade School of Art in London on the Thouron scholarship. He has remained friends with her ever since. She, too, was utterly charming, and kindly volunteered her services as photographer. Say cheese!

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Well we said our goodbyes and off I went, absolutely skipping along. I skipped, stopped to look at my very OWN John Wind Maximal Art bracelet and then skipped along again! Then sat on the train and scribbled furiously, punctuated with pauses to accommodate looking at my very OWN John Wind Maximal Art bracelet!!

Next week I have an appointment for a private viewing of the Victoria and Albert Museum’s John Wind collection, where one of John favourite pieces lives. And so the love affair continues...

Don’t forget! There’s still time to enter my ReallyRee John Wind Maximal Art giveaway.

Isn’t life funny how one minute you’re writing about a very gifted person in your blog and the next minute you’re having coffee and chats with them? I would love to know what you think about my meeting with John Wind. Have you any similar stories to tell where fortune has brought you together with someone you never thought you’d meet?

Can’t wait to hear from you

Ree

XXX

11 comments:

  1. I love this post! Ree, that dress is adorable paired with the gladiators. Super cute!

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  2. You look so pretty in your little butterfly dress & those gladiators. I very much enjoyed reading this post, it is very well written & also very humorous ;-)
    Congrats on meeting John Wind & also for the fab bracelet you received.
    xx

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  3. Ree, that is so amazing wow! Don't worry I would have reacted the same way jumping up for joy!

    http://socalfashionista.blogspot.com

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  4. Thank you girls. All so kind!

    XXX

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  5. Anonymous30/6/10

    Loved reading your impressions of John Wind. I have long been a fan of his work and it is heartwarming to know that he is not only extremely talented but a fabulous person as well. Thank you for a charming article.
    --Lisa

    P.S. Although I am an American, I was very fortunate to live in London for several years as a teen. However, I had forgotten one of my favorite English words--"pressies!" Thank you for the brilliant reminder.

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  6. Thank you Anonymous. I am so glad you liked my article. I loved reading your comment.

    Ree
    XXX

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  7. SOunds like an amazing meeting. He sounds like a truly lovely person. Any man with the ability to make jewellery so beautiful it is like he has broken off pieces of his soul to put in each piece is ok by me.


    Love the dress btw x x x

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  8. What a fantastic experience for you! John is first class gentleman!

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  9. Ree, I am blushing the color of my shirt! Thank you for your kind words and enthusiasm. And you're right, our meeting is a perfect reinforcement of the Thouron Award's goals... Here's to Anglo-American relations!

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  10. Wow Ree! Can't believe you met him!

    You're doing so well with this blog. It's absolutely brilliant to read too.

    Also, loving your outfit and the bracelet is gorgeous - lucky you xxx

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  11. so so lovely! and love little presents as well, the best! it is always so great when you can sit down with an artist in person and chat away..and they give you the opportunities! great! best wishes!

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