Mindful Living with Gareth Neal

Happiness, healthiness, well-being, ‘now-over-next’; however you want to put it, mindfulness & an emotional connection to our environment is a hot topic, & at the heart of our next exhibition ‘Mindful Living’, presented in store from 26th March to 25th April 2015.

Curated in collaboration with Gareth Neal, our approach to the concept of Mindful Living has been to work with Gareth to present a set of objects that can fulfil his needs both mentally & physically – pieces that engender satisfaction by virtue of their functional, emotional & aesthetic appeal. With provenance & narrative at the heart of the concept, we sat down with Gareth to explore what this particular selection means to him and how we can pursue a mindful way of living.

What does mindful living mean to you?

Mindful Living to me is about applying a holistic approach to all elements of our lives, from the food we eat, to the objects, materials, environment & people we surround ourselves with, as well as the processes by which objects are made. This is of course incredibly hard but I believe certain objects are going to give you a sense of continual satisfaction throughout your life – you get a sense of personal wellbeing from the knowledge that these objects have been made with love and care.

What should we consider when we choose pieces for our home?

We need to think about the people who made the object, the material & processes used, whether it fulfils a functional or emotional need, & finally the consequence of choosing that item. When someone buys something they should consider all of those elements – not just for their own lives but also for the wellbeing of everyone else. It’s about that chain, the domino effect which sees all our choices lead back to the source of that primary material.

Put simply it’s the selection of objects that combine function with good design… let that form the backbone of your choices & you should be fine!

What pieces can we expect to find within your curation of Mindful Living, & why?

A number of newly crafted pieces including the Brodgar cabinet – a new addition to my Brodgar series of furniture inspired by the traditional straw work of Orkney, as well as new pieces from potter Billy Lloydan all-purpose set of stackable ceramic vessels fit for cooking & communal eating.

I’ll also be including my axe. It’s a symbol for so many things; it stands for exercise, resourcefulness, the environmental debate, as well as being of incredible significance for more or less every culture. I have a huge respect for what can be achieved with them – from firewood, to boats, to homes.

A small but vital inclusion will be my trusty plastic toothbrush! It’s simple, terribly hard to recycle, made in the millions & yes, could never be called craft, but I don’t go anywhere without one. It’s an example of design in its purest form, where mass-production has helped the good health of every class of people within the Western world. A simple problem & a simple solution.

Finally, my record player – everyone needs a soundtrack to their lives! Music is one of the most powerful crafts & one I would have loved to have the ability to engage with. You could say the resurgence of interest in vinyl as a format has run in parallel with an interest in craftsmanship, & for me, it’s a format & way of listening to music that can’t be beaten.

How will you be bringing all these elements together?

In a bothy! I’ve teamed up with ‘The Bothy Project’ to design my very own bothy – traditionally a basic shelter found in mountainous areas of The British Isles. Now all I need is to sit back, close my eyes & let the mountain air breeze by…

Inshriach Bothy, www.thebothyproject.org Inshriach Bothy, www.thebothyproject.org