Vantage Point: April

April 4, 2014, by Sarah Douglas


“Once upon a time, I found myself at the edge of what I knew… Share with someone the rest of the story”

Just one of the questions the Point People asked guests to consider at a recent evening event that overflowed with dialogue, common ground and connecting.

From what I could hear, the answer for most who made their way into the kitchen of the 18th Century house and curiosity shop in which our salon was hosted, was that they regularly reached the precipice of what they knew. And although standing at this internal cliff edge felt pretty uncomfortable, it also served multiple functions – as a humbling acknowledgement of limitations, or a motivator that replenishes the thirst for knowledge encouraging one to learn and discover wider and deeper. It was striking how many discussed major challenges and shifts that had occurred at this edge in terms of their personal rather than professional lives, revealing the extent to which the personal learning curve was responsible for shaping external decisions and pathways.

In another room of the house participants were using their collective skills and expertise to come up with a strategy to rescue Rapunzel, a playful analogy for how powerful collective intelligence and insight can be in solving real world challenges. With this in mind I remembered the fantastic collaboration between Ferrari F1 and Great Ormond Street Hospital that saw experts from the sphere of motor racing train surgical teams to use the discipline of the pit stop to transfer high-risk patients more quickly during the critical minutes that follow complex heart surgery.

“Our handover [from operating theatre to intensive care unit] is our pit stop. It is a critical point where information can get lost. Just as a Formula One race can be won or lost on the pit stop, for us it can mean the difference between winning or losing the battle for the baby.” Jane Carthey, Institute of Child Health

Forging connections between different spheres of knowledge and finding new ways to catalyse these connections in order to drive innovation and systems change is a core ambition of the Point People. So we asked people to consider and share the things from the horizon of their work that excited them: “Looking out to sea, what do you see in the distance that is interesting?”


So, I’ve been playing closer attention to the activity on the periphery of my world that has sparked my curiosity this month…

I found it particularly captivating to learn more about the fascinating work being done by Coin Street Community Builders, the pioneering social enterprise responsible for keeping a community focus at the heart of the massive regeneration of the South Bank with co-operative housing schemes and numerous community facilities and support programmes.

And staying close to the river, I was again reminded of the importance of playing the long game when I saw the rave reviews that Phyllida Barlow has received this week after the opening of her new commission for the Duveen galleries at Tate Britain. “In every way tremendous… There's a word for this: Wow” writes Adrian Searle in the Guardian.

Having been highly respected by the art intelligentsia for many years and hugely influential to a younger generation of artists, Barlow is finally getting the accolades and recognition her consistently rigorous career deserves. Ever humble and inspiring at 70 as an artist, educator and mother of five.