‘So many people are shut up tight inside themselves like boxes, yet they would open up, unfolding quite wonderfully,
if only you were interested in them.’
For this issue, we took those words by Sylvia Plath to heart and decided to learn from the best. So we asked some of the most interesting people we know to tell us about the best lessons they’d learned.
The results, as ever, were unexpected and surprising, in the best of ways. Some detailed ancient crafts that had been passed down by word of mouth, from dry stone walling to knot making to woodturning and stained glass window making. Others talked with just as much enthusiasm about their photographic printers, or the art foundry that churns out creations for the enfants terribles of modern art. We’ve deconstructed cocktails and met the people who made artificial flowers for Gladiator and Mamma Mia.
We also visit Charleston, the West Sussex farmhouse which became the unofficial country headquarters for the Bloomsbury Set, a gravitational centre for the unconventional – from art and literature to economics and sexual politics – and invited those whose lives had been touched by Charleston, from family members to curators and collectors, to join us for a series of truly unique conversations.
Elsewhere in this issue, the songwriter Kevin Rowland reminisces about the school friend who first turned him on to fashion; the Guardian’s Alex Needham remembers a dearly departed colleague, while James Bowthorpe – who once held the world record for cycling around the world – pleads the case for spare time as the greatest teacher. In short, we asked people we love and respect to open up …and they unfolded quite wonderfully.
This issue is dedicated to those people: the ones who have inspired us; be they teachers, mentors, friends, colleagues or guardians: the ones who teach us to open our eyes.