Hilary was interviewed recently by the Dossier for Designated PA
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?
I am a creative director, yoga teacher and independent scholar working with the regions of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
As a barrister, anthropologist, art historian, scholar and teacher in the traditions of yoga and meditation, my work brings me together with people from a huge range of backgrounds, cultures and human experience. Differences in the ways we see the world are as fascinating as the sharedness of the human condition that unites us.
I have come strongly to believe in beauty as a route to peacefulness: on a personal level and in the public sphere.
Everyone, in their personal lives, on a larger world scale or through intellectual heritage, can find ways of seeing beauty: it makes us resilient in the face of the adversities of life.
With my clients, I explore new perceptions, fresh thinking, catalyse inspiration and contemplation. The resolution of conflict and all that that implies about understanding meaning and the challenges of creating new, positive outcomes is of special interest. It is, I think, particularly well served through the arts, both ancient and contemporary.
My contribution is through my professional skills and experience, communicated through travel, speaking, training and mentoring.
How has your Designated PA contributed to any of your recent successes?
Designated PA (DPA) came highly recommended while I was re-creating my website. I wanted to combine the different things I do and how they serve such wide-ranging individuals and different groups. They span from working with museums and art collections, to being a public speaker and gallery tour guide, providing a platform to emergent photographers and providing tailored yoga to private clients.
I own a well-established independent yoga practice and I wanted to highlight its practice specialisms (eg. I am trained to Masters level in Yoga for Golf and teach yoga to a number of sporting professionals.) In particular, the programmes I teach bring out the richness of yoga’s philosophy, art and cultural development. These aspects crucially underpin the whole framework and enrich the practice of yoga enormously as well as being of great interest in their own right.
Rebecca Hattersley my Designated PA, contributed to the re-launching of my website and captured the full breadth of what I do and striving to achieve. This was a time where I truly needed an assistant to work with a team of people to get it on the road. I wanted different aspects, lots of colour and vast amounts of work and interests captured, explained and promoted in my website.
Through Rebecca, DPA contributed technical skills, social media assistance, regular site management and (I have Rebecca to thank for this) a new photographer with pictures from Ethiopia becoming the introductory exhibitor for the on-line gallery. Content and imagery are constantly on the go and I have welcomed DPA’s ideas, feedback and advice.
An early and very exciting project I undertook for the British Museum was a Special Event about new research on the history of yoga, the role of music, the visual imagery used in the Yoga Sutras and yoga in contemporary Indian society and politics. I also brought in other media – early film footage and music – and an audience opportunity for a book signing. DPA helped greatly with the social media and other forms of publicity for the event alongside the British Museum’s own publicity. Held in the BP Lecture theatre seating up to 345 people, I am delighted to say that the event sold out.
What is a typical working day like for you?
Every day is different but first thing is teaching an early morning yoga class or a long walk with the dog. Back at my office, there is always academic research and preparation for my next project, some business and domestic admin, possibly a visit to the outstanding library at SOAS (my alma mater). It may be a yoga teaching evening or attending a lecture of one of the several art or cultural societies I belong to. It is important to be up-to-date with new work in my fields of interest and essential to have thinking time. A dog is an excellent walking companion for this purpose!
I also travel a lot for work and personal enjoyment: tremendously fulfilling and rewarding.
What success do you still strive for?
I welcome introductions to new audiences and being invited to use my skills and experience in new – even unexpected – ways. I am currently researching into producing a documentary film and working on location.
What motivates you?
I love what I do. Giving light to the meaning, culture and history behind a work of art, performance art, architecture, sound, imagery, landscape – the list is endless but so is the potential to discover with others, the excitement, beauty and controversies of other worlds and other journeys. Creating that sense of seeing things in another way – the ‘oh wow’ moment.
Among the most precious are times in the practice and teaching of yoga when someone makes a new discovery in outlook or achieves something they thought they couldn’t do. However small, these ‘eureka’ moments give such joy and spread such positivity into other areas of their lives, as a teacher they are wonderful to observe. In the end, it is not about me, I am simply the messenger, but I strive to be a good messenger.
Who inspires you and why?
I love listening to Neil MacGregor (recently out-going Director of the British Museum). His series on BBC Radio 4 entitled A History of the World in 100 Objects is a good example. In seconds, he has entranced me into the intricacies of an object I knew nothing about or thought was boring – with his gift for treating a serious subject with a lightness of touch academically (belying great knowledge if asked) and often a sprinkling of humour. He brings out in a very short radio item, another world, populated by people and life.
What projects are you working on currently? And which one excites you most?
My belief in seeing beauty and experiencing its transition into a pathway to peacefulness lies within all art forms and cultures and the communication and connections that lead to it. I am looking to take the essence of these messages across cultures, faiths and audiences who wouldn’t necessarily listen. In addition to exploring the medium of documentary film mentioned above, I am building a platform for emerging photographers and artists to promote their work. Currently I am doing this via my website but there is a plan ahead to hold ‘in conversation’ events – an alternative to a lecture, with the photographer/artist/architect in person. A forum like this engages audiences and encourages discussion about the artist’s work in a very immediate way.
What is the hardest thing you have done in your career so far?
Balancing my dividing loyalties between family and work. The divide however is not always a divide and I have also to thank them for their love, tolerance and support.
Best bit of advice you have received?
A piece of advice I received as young as my school days “Always do your best”, I still believe this today.
How do I single out one where I’ve met so many amazing and enriching people in life? I do however have a mug that reads “Keep Glam and Rock on” - which is good place to start!
One rule you live by?
Unconditional love. No matter how awful anyone is to you, bear with it, stop fighting it, keep hold of that golden thread. And of course most importantly, do no harm.
What would you not fly without?
A book, I always have a book.
Preferred way to spend Sunday afternoon?
Sunday’s are hugely important to me. This is a day spent as a family and our noble hound. We can be found either on the Wiltshire or Sussex downs on any day; wind, rain or shine. You feel on top of the world and can see for miles. They are both beautiful parts of the country and we ensure the day is always ring fenced for this.