Monday, 5 November 2012

Sad Eyes (Part 2)

In Sad Eyes (Part 1) I talked about the fascinating process of having a portrait of oneself done in oils.

But Hynek Martinec, the brilliant young portrait artist who produced the majectic "Five Masters, Three Wardens and the Clerk" had one more request of us sitters. As explained in the book published by, that accompanies the painting "During the process, each sitter was asked to provide 140 characters, Twitter style, to adorn their painting."

(By the way, if you want to discover the best of the best of the next generation of artists, take a look at website. They find, display and sell the finest artworks by students and recent grads from the UK's most prestigeous art establishments).

We were not given any firm instructions on what our 140 characters should say. The only guidance was that in a 100 years time, when future generations are looking at your portrait and notice the 140 characters on the side of the painting, what do you want it to say about you? City portraits hang on Livery Hall walls literally for hundreds of years. I know of a Hall that has a portrait of Dick Whittington, who I used to assume was a fictional, pantomime character but it turns out he was a very real person and his portrait is there staring down at you hundreds of years later!.

So, this was a very real challenge. In several hundred years time, people might actually look at my portrait and wonder "who the hell is that guy?" How do I define myself in 140 characters. Well, it took me several weeks and lots of crossing-out but eventually here's what I wrote:

Tom Ilube DTech (Hon) MBA FRSA - Founding Chairman Hammersmith Academy - Technologist, Educator - Mr Bojangles "Talked of Life. Laughed"

How did I get to this? Let's break it down.

Tom Ilube - Actually my name is Thomas Ilube but I am know as Tom by practically everyone. My father has been known to call me Thomas. My grandmum called me Tommy. To everyone else I am Tom. So Tom it is.

DTech (Hon) - a few years ago I was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Technology. My big sister snorted, saying "is that one of those silly degrees you don't have to do any work for?" (I think she was teasing!). I decided to use it here as a shorthand way of saying "I've worked in technology for years and years".

MBA - having put in a shorthand for my technology career I then decided to use my MBA as shorthand for my business career.

FRSA - this stands for Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. I really like the RSA and use the RSA House quite often when I am in London and need to meet someone or stop for a coffee. I have spoken there, hosted events there and had many important and enlightening meetings in the cafe down in the basement.I think as one of life's outsiders, being invited (elected?) to Fellowship felt like being accepted into a large and interesting gathering of friends.

Founding Chairman Hammersmith Academy - in 2005 I proposed the idea of creating a new secondary school and six years later we opened the doors of Hammersmith Academy. I led the project from the back of a napkin in a north London coffee shop to one of the most amazing schools in London. It was very tough at times but I am very proud of having done this.

Technologist, Educator - my career has been in technology, from my days as an Assembler programme at British Airways to the companies I have created. I am a Technologist. But I am also an educator. For the past decade I have been a Governors of four schools, created one from scratch and founded an African education charity. Education will play an increasing role as life goes on. I am an Educator.

Mr Bojangles "Talked of Life. Laughed" - surely you know me well enough by now to know that I am Mr Bojangles. I talk of life. And laugh. With sad eyes.

So, who are you, in 140 characters?

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