#1 – U2
Yep, I said it. Formerly known for 1987 album The Joshua Tree, U2 are now known as the band who snuck into everyone’s iTunes in 2014 with Songs of Innocence. Unwelcome? To some perhaps, but certainly not to me.
Since forming in 1976, these four Irishmen have been at the forefront of technology, with each tour reinvigorating the idea of sharing music. From the innovative ZooTV tour in 1992 - which became known as a ‘sensory overload’ because of its multimedia outlook - to the 2011 360 tour where the band experimented with a stage pointing in all directions of the stadium, they've been at the forefront of innovative music sharing.
What’s more, 2018 promises the follow up of the 2015 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour.
You can listen to their latest album, Songs of Experiencehere.
#2 – Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi) was one of the most influential, inspirational and impactful Renaissance artists. Born to a tanner, he began as a fresco painter for churches and cathedrals before being recognised all across Italy for his talent.
Whilst he is most famous for The Birth of Venus and painting parts of the Sistine Chapel, I find his Madonna and Child paintings most touching. A vastly influential Early Renaissance painter, he depicted the Virgin Mary and Christ many times, often for the patronage of the infamous Medici family.
But Botticelli was sly: he retained a relationship with the Medicis meanwhile following the religious traditions of Girolamo Savonarola, Christian priest. Savonarola advocated for Christian renewal and the destruction of secular art. Although this is not historically proven, it is thought that on February 7th, 1479, the priest held the ‘bonfire of the vanities’.
Imagine that, setting fire to some of the most precious religious artwork! In an age where we treasure antiquities, it’s barely conceivable. For me, Botticelli is a symbol of the religious archetypes that occupied Italy in the Renaissance. In the coming summer, I want to visit the Uffizi Gallery in Florence to see arguably his three most renowned works: Primavera, the Birth of Venus, and Adoration of the Magi.
#3 – Caroline Calloway
Caroline Calloway is constantly looking for new ways to engage social media in current art. Through her main platform on Instagram, she is arguably one of the most famous Instagram storytellers.
From New York parties to Cambridge formals, from Italian princesses to Scottish castles, it can all be found in this ‘bamboozlingly’ beautiful Instagram feed. Caroline also shares her writing on Etsy, where she releases chapters of her book And We Were Like, regularly. I’m on chapter six and I can barely wait until the next chapter!
Find Caroline Calloway on Instagram: @carolinecalloway
#4 – Roland Leighton and Vera Brittain
This summer I visited Roland Leighton’s grave in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in France. Plot 1, Row B, Grave 20.
Leighton was a poet, a scholar, and fiancé to Vera Brittain. My favourite poem of all time is written by this WWI hero, Hedauville, in which he describes his memories looking back on the months before the war, which he spent in Derbyshire with Brittain.
Before receiving conscription papers, Leighton studied for a few terms at Oxford University alongside Vera’s brother Edward, and their mutual friend Victor. To me, his tale screams of pre-war innocence: an innocence lost as soon as the young men crossed the French border.
Leighton died December 23rd, 1915, only a year into the war. His friends from Oxford were soon to follow. Throughout the conflict, Brittain dedicated her time as a VAD nurse first in London, then Malta and France. Afterwards, she became a pacifist and feminist, tirelessly campaigning for peace and women’s rights. She is a heroine of mine, having lost her three closest friends in a war and yet not forgetting about the conflict as so many did after the Armistice.
‘I used to talk of the Beauty of War, but it is only War in the abstract that is beautiful. Modern warfare is merely a trade...’ - Letter from Roland Leighton to Vera Brittain, 2nd August 1915.
You can read Hedauville here.
#5 – John and Hank Green
Together, the Green brothers make a super brain.
For me, their YouTube channel, Vlogbrothers, is an endless source of motivation and inspiration.
John Green is, of course, the author of arguably the most popular YA novels of the 21st century. The Fault in our Stars and Paper Towns are among his award-winning achievements. Hank Green is, well, an entity you can’t exactly tie down. His achievements include entrepreneurial endeavours, YouTube achievements, educational talks, an endless list.
Alongside Vlogbrothers, the pair also collab on CrashCourse, another YouTube channel dedicated to learning featuring other educators alongside the Greens. John focusses on history and literature whilst Hank covers sciences and psychology.
How can two brothers achieve so much? I think their success is largely down to their honesty online.
John suffers from OCD and ADHD, which means, he says, he feels a constant need to be occupied. What inspires me about this duo is the clarity and vulnerability they expose to their 3 million subscribers. Their four-minute Vlogbrother episodes cover a spectrum of issues including world poverty, questions with their wives, Trump, what it’s like living with OCD, social anxiety and more. Yep, they’ve got it all.
Their wisdom is astounding, and whether you agree with their views or not, it’s an undying resource of stimulus and encouragement for me.
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore on Creative Commons.