Lockdown has been a strange time for everyone. We are constantly wishing for more time to do as we please, to pursue a creative interest, to focus on something other than work. And now we unexpectedly have all the time in the world, we don’t know what to do with it. So here are three books we recommend when your inspiration is low, you need a boost of creativity or you just want to kick back with a good read for an hour or two.
1. Widow Basquiat – Jennifer Clement and Suzanne Mallouck
“He smells of leather, oil paint, tobacco, marijuana and the faint metallic smell of cocaine. He wears handmade wool sweaters and long Mexican ponchos. He never walks in a straight line. He zigzags wherever he is going.”
Widow Basquiat tells the love story between artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and his muse Suzanne Mallouk. Written by Jennifer Clement with passages from Suzanne herself, the book also documents the art scene of the 1980s, and the creative characters that were there such as Madonna, Andy Warhol, Keith Harring and more.
The way this book is written is like no other. The almost lyrical prose style makes this different from a classic biography, as the writing flows, smoothly and softly, sending your mind into a whirlwind of artistic imagery. Thousands of words have been written on Jean-Michel Basquiat, but none capture his life in such a harrowing, beautiful, tragic way. Whatever your opinions on art or Basquiat, read this and let your mind be taken somewhere else for a time.
2. Wall and Piece – Banksy
“I’m going to speak my mind so this won’t take very long”.
There is a reason why Banksy is one of the most famous street artists in the world. He does things differently, always has and always will. He finds the niche, points out the obvious in the oblivious, his satirical humour injected into every thought-making piece he’s ever created and the same goes for Wall and Piece.
Whether you just want to marvel at the photos of his work or read more in-depth into the captions and stories accompanying them, Wall and Piece will make you laugh, make you think and even potentially change the way you see things.
But of course, there is a chance you may hate Banksy. But even then I doubt he’s going to care.
3. What We Wore: A People’s History of Style – Nina Manandhar
“What We Wore is the first personal history of British style; a photographic documentary of street culture and subculture from 1950-2010 viewed through the lens of the people living it.”
Made up of hundreds of photographs, everything from amateur photography to polaroids, to 35mm film, each contributor describing a little bit about what they’re wearing, this book is more than just pictures of clothes. It can summon nostalgia, spark an interest in various subcultures, make you think about your style and life now. Do you fit into a specific category? Where would you be placed if you were to be featured in this book?
Visually intriguing, flicking through What We Wore will spark a fire inside you, and put your brain into a creative spiral, and make you feel excited to start working on something yourself.
(I’ve done a little research and it seems that buying a print edition of this book is a bit of a challenge, but you can check out the website here: https://what-we-wore.com/)