Lubna Gem Arielle is the epitome of a portfolio person with fabulously diverse skills ranging from the arts to law. She is, amongst other things, an artist, writer, deviser, performer, actor, presenter, law lecturer and intellectual property consultant. She uses her knowledge, imagination and experience and shares these with the world though performance and writing, whether this is telling Butterfly stories to 5 year olds or delivering law lectures to MA students.
In your professional life, what is the single best thing about what you do?
That what I do is consistent with who I am. This means a great deal to me, especially as I compromised for many years in my first career as a City solicitor.
I've gradually segued from having a “job” to a rich and varied “livelihood” which includes facilitating combined arts workshops for children, writing, presenting and producing educational programmes and leading workshops on contracts and copyright for small businesses. The questions that drive me are – “will this bring me joy” and “how does it contribute to others?” For me, there has to be a good balance between the two.
Do you have a creative hero / heroine and if so, why?
Lots - countless artists, writers, dancers, speakers, performers and teachers whose work, imagination, commitment, creative energy, insights and lives are a constant and treasured source of inspiration. I have a creative hero / heroine for every occasion!
Something that has come up a lot recently, both on a personal note and in conversations with people who want to change career in mid-life, is the issues and judgements around age and aging. It's taken me a long time to make the changes I wanted to see – making a forwards and backwards journey along a diagonal line. On that front, Louise Hay is a wonderful role model. She has enriched the lives of so many with her work as a teacher, author and publisher in the healing arts – and only started her “real work” in her forties and set up her publishing company in her sixties and is committed to continual learning, even at eighty-five. That's certainly encouragement to me that it is never too late to make a change.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given at the beginning of your career?
Live the life you want and not the life someone else has drawn for you.
It took me a long time to find the courage to follow my heart and my own dreams. The expectation of my parents and sitting behind that, their culture and upbringing, was for me to become a doctor or lawyer. I read law at university, qualified as a solicitor and spent two years advising on commercial property deals at a City law firm. My suit felt like a strait-jacket and I knew the real price of my Prada shoes; one day I just reached breaking point because my spirit was dying. I handed in my notice and embarked on a long journey, which at times has felt like a sailing of the seven seas.
If you hit a creative block, what is your top tip for getting through it?
Work with it!
I'm aware that my sudden need to clean and tidy is a reflection of the mental clutter inside. Many things, anything - fear, self-judgement /not good-enough, overwhelm, avoidance, fatigue to name a few. It is a bit bewildering when I suddenly find myself with a bottle of Viakal in my hand robotically thinking “ah - but these bath-taps must sparkle - now.” I've learned to harness this willingness to scrub - my home certainly appreciates it! And I use the rhythms of cleaning as a gentle meditation to clear and ease my mind too.
At non-cleaning, lack-lustre times I'm aware that my “blocks” are usually the story/article/drawing/lecture needing time to simmer for a while. Which is fine by me – I also take time to breathe and refresh – go for a walk, catch up with some chores or meet a friend for coffee.
And finally, for fun, if you were a shoe, what type of shoe would you be and why?
A pair of schiaparelli pink party shoes hand-stitched by elves from soft leather I leave on the kitchen table (as in the Elves and the Shoemaker), because the elves made such wonderful shoes.
The wisdom of this story resonates with me. It always springs to mind when I think about letting new projects grow gently and gradually – a practical business lesson! I love the magic of the story - through not giving up, a transformation begins at what seems to be the darkest hour.