#1 The Short Origin Story 

June 28th, 2024

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play-instinct, acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.” – Carl Jung

I can trace the exact moment when the Glass Cathedrals concept came to life.

My friend Guy had given me an architect’s model. As soon as I saw the tiny figurine I was smitten. He was unpainted, frozen, but his body was moulded in a position of triumph – arms upraised – I loved his confidence and bravado. And then – the killer detail – I saw he had lost both his arms above the elbow. Chewed off? Lost in battle? Always a sucker for that most human of combinations, confidence and vulnerability – I fell in love and popped him in a drawer.

Then one day in London, in 2004, I took him out and put him on a tiny chair, and then inside a plain wooden box. It’s not that I had a particular thought in mind, I just move things around a lot. I have a lot of things, and I assume they like to meet each other from time to time.

Above: Armless Boyfriend (A.B? Abie?) on throne. Abie making new friends (including Dobby the house-elf) and then as he is today. Somehow he’s lost a forearm and a lower leg in the last 20 years. Oops. I am loving but careless.

As soon as I put him in the box, he changed from being pitiful… to extraordinary! From useless to empowered. Life was breathed into that little guy and the space in the box opened up to infinity. I had created an entire parallel universe! As I looked into the box, I felt godlike in purpose and in scale. He was the hero of his own story, small in stature, but BIG in spirit – just like me, just like all of us.

For a small box to contain such meaning – in fact to be transported to a new reality, one that reflected much that was important and precious about our own – was a powerful magic.

My mind started exploding with ideas…

…and the Glass Cathedrals concept was born.


An extra note…

Originally this newsletter was about 5 times longer and included dives into hypochondria, fear of hiking and an obsession with Things – but then I deleted all that to keep it snappy. I’ve heard the people love snappy, and I’d hate to overstay my welcome (not really, I love overstaying my welcome). I’ll be covering a lot of that stuff in the weeks ahead, but here’s a graphic snapshot (below), so you can see what random directions I was heading….

Hitching a ride in Madagascar | One of my favourite of Ralph’s cartoons | A painting by my daughter Mila, of a particularly never-ending hike in Sossusvlei, Namibia. There’s a tiny person to be found there somewhere!