Friday, September 21, 2007

Arts & Cushions

Sometimes I sit down to write this column and an idea hits me for something completely different - a song, a piece of jewellery, an unbreakable umbrella. Or, in today’s case, a book.

It’s a detective thriller about an Elvis impersonator who doubles as a serial killer. Every victim is murdered in a homage to one of the King’s hits - trampled to death with Blue Suede Shoes, garotted with a Good Luck Charm, or All Shook Up in a concrete mixer.

Unless the editor gives me another 100 pages or so, I don’t think I’ll have room for a whole book today. If you can find a copy of my novel, Dead Cold, in a second-hand shop, you’ll get a taste of something similar, though - the psychic detective is a Sinatra fanatic and the blowtorch-wielding villain is Too Close For Comfort!

As I was writing the book, Sinatra’s greatest albums were blasting from my stereo, providing the soundtrack. And that fabulous music came rushing back in my head when I saw Ol’ Blue Eyes staring at me from a window in London’s Wigmore Street.

The shop specialises in art fabrics, with cloth painted in the style of geniuses like Dali and Warhol, or embossed with images of screen icons such as Marilyn Monroe. As soon as I saw the cushion decorated with a stark, black-and-white portrait of Sinatra, I had to have it.

“That’s why they called him the Chairman of the Board,” joked Shipi, testing the cushion for softness.

He started us all off. “Sinatra was the godfather of Lounge music,” Dan declared. “You Make Me Feel Sofa,” I said.

Hanna trumped us all, though. As I settled onto my new cushion, she nudged me and said, “It Was A Very Good Rear.”


There’s a marvellous restaurant, the French Horn, close to my home, with a reputation for extraordinary cuisine which brings visitors from all over Europe. I was introduced there to a energetic and visionary man, Richard Tibber, who told me over dinner that he was managing director of Zeon watches.

“I’ve been in the watches business my whole career,” I exclaimed - “stopping them, starting them and making them spin. I’ve even halted Big Ben twice. Maybe I should be designing watches for you.”

Richard loved the idea, and now the Uri Geller Positive Energy range is about to go into production. These are exceptional timepieces, powered by the kinetic energy of the owner’s body, with a piece of crystal embedded in the back which will be in constant contact with the skin.

I have decorated the faces of the watches with symbols that focus on time’s infinite, unending power - the infinity sign, the 11-11 pairing and Einstein’s formula e=mc2 which defines all matter as energy.

Even the glass cover of the watch is unique: some are encased in transparent pyramids. I chose that design for two reasons, the power of pyramids and the resonance of ancient Egyptian motifs.

No one knows how a pyramid of the correct proportions, such as the Great Pyramid of Cheops, on the Giza Plateau outside Cairo, focuses energy, but there is no doubt of its extraordinary effects. The pyramid of glass and steel in my garden is constructed to exactly the same ratios, and everyone who steps inside it is struck by the sense of serenity and rejuvenation which floods through them.

The potency of Egyptian symbolism has been at the front of my mind this week as I work on my latest line of jewellery. It’s going to feature brooches, earrings, necklace pendants and bracelets modelled on hieroglyphics.


One of the most sacred symbols of orthodox Jewish worship are the tefillim or phylactery, boxes containing holy Hebrew scripture which are worn bound to the head and arm, especially at prayer time. I was delighted to meet a shy young Jewish man, Solly, who visited my home with a gift of the tefillim from Rabbi Elvaz in Jerusalem.

The rabbi was a fan of my show, Successor, earlier this year, and wanted to send me a thank you gift. It’s a good thing he sent Solly along too, to help me tie it properly.


Annie Kevans is one of the most prominent portrait artists in Britain, whose career took a leap up when the noted collector Sir Charles Saatchi bought out her last exhibition, lock stock and barrel. Saatchi, who is married to the domestic goddess, Nigella Lawson, has often been criticised for his policy of buying art with a JCB digger, but there’s no doubt he can make a young artist’s reputation with one flash of his chequebook.

The dynamic Flora Fairbairn, founder of the Collect Contemporary consultancy, contacted me to say Annie had completed a portrait of me. I explained that I have a policy of rarely buying art (I didn’t mention the Sinatra cushion) but I was always happy to exchange pieces.

Annie and Flora were intrigued, and when they brought the portrait over I fell in love with it. They selected a piece of hand-decorated Poole pottery in return. The painting went straight on my wall, and it’s causing fewer problems than the sculpture by Gavin Turk which was delivered this week - it’s the rear bumper of a car, and at the moment it’s in our garage. I’m having some trouble persuading

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