by David Bromley
I haven’t been able to work out how to portray in words, Yuge – my wife…
I think this is because, as I have said to her myself, words cannot express my feeling for her. I can’t write about Yuge, as the smartest person I’ve met, or her many achievements, without discussing our love, which is in my mind the basis for my life, my inspiration and my well-being. So in some ways, this is an impossible task. So why am I trying to write an article on Yuge(?), because, as John Lennon decribed Yoko Ono, Yuge is the other half of my sky.
I am seeking to portray an accomplished person who has facets well over and above just my immense love for her, but how do I do that when I find it so hard, so personal, as my thoughts just turn to emotions, oscillating in and around love, admiration and adoration? Well that problem is a daily occurrence for us. Trying to take a concept that’s running around in our heads and working out how to articulate it into reality, turning thoughts into paintings, furniture, design, architecture, sculpture, installations etc, this though, I find harder – taking feelings of love, emotional happiness, desire and dreamlike euphoria in her midst and portraying her more cognitively. I simply can’t discuss Yuge, her achievements and remarkable qualities as a human without mentioning love, and whilst this may seem somewhat frustrating for the reader I take solace from musicians who sang of love and the masses adored it. The Beatles is probably number one, lyrics steeped in love, ‘All You is Love’, ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’, ‘8 Days a Week’ The list is enormous, then each Beatle going on to solo expressions of love, Paul McCartney singing ‘Another Silly Love Song’, Lennon – ‘Oh Yoko’, George – ‘Something in the Way She Moves’, Ringo – ‘Drowning in the Sea of Love’. So an article by an artist (myself), getting past this feeling to write about his wife, is an interesting challenge, because my life, my art, my daily existence changed after meeting her.
There are though so many remarkable love stories who in my eyes reflect how I feel. Of his relationship with Yoko Ono, John Lennon once said, “If you love somebody, you can’t be with them enough. There’s no such thing. You don’t want to be apart.” From the outside the two artists certainly seemed inseparable. For many, their love story is synonymous with images entwined around one another, most famously on the cover of Rolling Stone.
“But I can be alone without Yoko, I just have no wish to be. There’s no reason on earth why I should be alone without Yoko. There’s nothing more important than our relationship, nothing.”
Then there’s Jacqueline Roque and Picasso, the second wife of Picasso, with him until his death and known as his muse. They were married for 11 years during which he created over 400 portraits of her, more than any of Picasso’s other loves. Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor; according to TIME, Burton admitted he was making movies due to his desire for money, not a love for the art. However, he thought quite highly of his talented wife. He once wrote, “You are probably the best actress in the world, which, combined with your extraordinary beauty, makes you unique.”
Keith Richards and Patti Hansen: according to Vanity Fair, Richards described the night he first met the supermodel at Studio 54, “When Patti and I met it was just… BOOM… “, “The moment I saw Patti, we looked at each other, and I said, hello, something’s happening to me.”
Back to me and Yuge, but firstly, do I have the right to claim a comparison to these hugely famous people? Well, I feel comfortable with it. I see my life and my love for my wife as great as any world renowned romance. I also view snippets and statements of well-known people as benchmarks. My mind wanders through the benchmarks of deeply connected relationships, relationships that survive and grow in meaning and wonder like Picassos’ marriage to Jacqueline, a woman who seemed to calm a powerful energy and see him more at peace in his older days.
One of my favourite magazines is Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine where it was the constant not the exception that people of renown would interview other famous people. So the very concept of a person interviewing their partner in love, life and work is not that far away from it, but again I say – difficult. Nevertheless, that is what I am going to try….
I know what I want to try and achieve in this interview with you Yuge, I have a mixed-up pallet of words inside my head, endeavoring to portray who you are to me. I have no problem comparing my love amongst the greatest love stories. In John and Yoko’s last interview, John was asked whether they still wanted world peace, John said “I’m more interested in Yoko and me.” That I feel we can relate to. During lockdown it has been US. Whilst impossible to not be sad for all those suffering through this major world happening, we have however found the limitations of lockdown, where we are in isolation with ourselves and our family one of the best times of our life.
I’ve never really sought to compare our relationship with other couples. I don’t know – I’m just happy. I do remember a very definitive time when I made the decision to be comfortable in my skin. I was 13 years old and had such debilitating shyness that I could not express myself at all. I just said I’ve got to stop comparing myself, I don’t care what people think of me anymore and I came out of that shyness.
So I like that feeling of not coveting aspects of what other people have, whether I’m happy in my own life or not. It just happens that I am deliriously happy in my life and my relationship, so to me there isn’t a comparison. Despite there being fascination, interest, and intrigue in these couples, we are not them, we are US.
I know what it’s like to have a conversation with yourself because I’ve had some of those conversations too – some very serious talks with myself in fact. You have also told me some stories of your shyness, one of being in front of the class and being so shy and nervous that you just started to giggle and laugh in a confused sort of way. But I’ve looked at photographs of you and I wouldn’t have picked you as a shy person, you look playful, mischievous, cheeky – very similar to how our girls look, and you weren’t shy in your family unit?
No I wasn’t shy in my family unit and I don’t know where my shyness came from possibly my mum, because dad’s quite a gregarious person but at the same time I do know I’m definitely a listener versus a talker and I’ll wait until I need to say something and perhaps that’s part of what was all wrapped up in the shyness.
I know you went to back to China for a year when you’re were young, after arriving in New Zealand at 3 years old?
Yes, being very shy and desperately wanting to fit in and not stick out, the weekend before I started at my new school in China I went to the hairdressers with my mum and she asked me what I wanted to do. I saw an older woman with all these colourful rollers in her hair and I said “that’s what I want!” And of course I ended up with a granny perm to start my first day at a new school!
Despite substantial academic achievements, dux of school at 16, leaving for university studying both business and law, there are huge contradictions in you.
When we were first together, I would often praise a piece of clothing you had and at this stage I knew mainly of your lawyer side and was therefore surprised when you said, “I made that”. These were delightful beginnings of finding out about your ability to turn your hand to many things purely creative. You are also the only person that on a regular basis I am shocked by your remarkable learning curve. I’ve seen you show a certain interest in something and it hasn’t been overly in your sights then a couple of years later – wow you hit the ground running – what is that?
I would say that I have elements of being creative – I can admit that now! I think it’s harder though to fight against that than it is to accept, but if I’m entirely sure about something then I will go more than 100%. I’ll also push to come to wisdom. If the seed has been planted and I’m at 70%, sure I’ll do everything in my power to work out what that missing 30% is, but if it doesn’t reach 100% then I drop down to 0 and it’s out of the equation. I think that’s how my brain works.
You’ve said to me in the past you know if you set your mind to something you’ll achieve it and I do feel that way.
One of most remarkable experiences of my life, you giving birth to our firstborn Wen and there was no room ready and we slept in the room that you gave birth in, and it did look like a bit of a battlefield. I was exhausted – and yes I get laughed at for saying that – but it really was quite hard work for me.
In half sleep on a small mattress, I noticed that the child (Wen) was born with an immense capacity to disturb sleep and I’ve seen you do this so many times, you’re almost like a science fiction character in a film that has the ability to scan someone and work out what to do and that’s what you did.
I don’t think I have Asperger’s or anything like that but I do sometimes think I’m a robot. I don’t think I’ve ever vocalised that to you. My head does work in a very calculating way and Wen did then sleep through the night that night, as did Bei and Jimmy from night one.
But that’s why conversations like this are interesting because we are so bloody busy all the time. Knowing that you can analyse and articulate most situations perfectly, you know how much I love it when you say something totally silly. I do remember you saying that once when you were younger you came home and said to your mother, “At school today they called me a cannonball.”
Yes, I said ‘they called me a cannonball at school today” and my mother said, “I think they called you gullible”. You’ve certainly been adding a trap in here and there that I’ve fallen into, see that actually proves that I am a robot because I couldn’t work them out at first!
I’ve met some pretty interesting and wild people but I do have to say probably some of the wildest situations in my life have been watching you scan, analyse oversee and then complete something because you know what has to be done to achieve an outcome. Many can do this in their area of expertise but you seem to be able to do it in so many diverse and seemingly opposing scenarios. I on the other hand am a slow learner.
I love this about you because you are old school, you’re so old school … yeah there are certain you know sprinkles of modernity about how you do things like use a computer but you are actually the epitome of an old school person when you say the above! I think you’re highly intelligent you’re remarkably creative …. if you’re a slow learner then so am I, learning despite my rational academic and legal background that perhaps I am best jumping off the cliff so to speak. This has opened me up to so many different ways of seeing things, and actioning them has helped me realise that contemplating something is virtually irrelevant compared to doing something, learning on the hop and getting as much out of the mistakes as the wins.
I’ve often known where the pitfalls are but I’m also a believer that if you can pole vault or jump over that pitfall there are some pretty exciting things on the other side.
I think it’s quite funny as now we’ve gone a decade into our relationship and been working together for many years we’ve now got a bit of an intuitive gauge for each other. When you say you’re a slow learner I chuckle because I’ve learned that when you come up with your new ideas, which you do every 10 minutes, rather than saying I don’t think an idea will work, instead, I now like to agree and go on with the process of investigating the idea and allow you the time to work out yourself why it will or won’t. I have the remarkable life I have because I live with a Johnny Appleseed … and I’ve got some robot components to me, I’m not the core creator but I might contribute an idea or add a component to a bigger vision. I don’t’ have superhero skills, I have nerd skills ….
I think you have superwoman skills! Dux of your school, three university degrees by 21 including a Masters in Law and our amazing family, we’ve got children, pets, endless projects and we never have time to stop. I’m absolutely full of admiration for your academic achievements even though you have changed your direction to the creative / arts industry.
People would think that potentially I pushed or manipulated you into art – you know a more creative life, and nothing could be further from the truth because that’s a responsibility that I never wanted, but I am proud of how you made the steps into it with grace and clarity and yet in someways it was also like crossing the Grand Canyon.
I suggested an article on Yuge, and naively thought the images I have of her in my eyes were enough for me to portray the person I see. So I interviewed her – you might say a very incongruous thing to do with a person I love who I have only ever spoken with organically. What’s funny is that the dictation function that I used to transcribe our interview, which amazed me as I saw words appearing on the screen, actually made no sense whatsoever when I went to edit it. Many years ago I was doing a talk to quite a large audience. I had managed to prepare three intros but nothing more than that. Moet & Chandon was part of the evening and after four glasses I threw all three intros in the bin and went for it. It was well received. I was also once portraying some films I had made to some media execs and took their silence as boredom so I wrapped it up quickly. Turned out they were actually all mesmerised not bored. So perhaps just attempting to write in free flow will allow the words to come out, who would have thought that I’d find so hard and one of the most memorable glitches in my life, a description of Yuge.
Romeo and Juliet is one of my most adored stories. I think it’s one of the greatest pieces of literature and most amazing films. I saw it at such a young age, perhaps about twelve with my parents, and I was obsessed by its deep drama, the torment and the beauty of the tragedy. Yuge saved me. Saved me from loneliness and saved me from having what appeared to be a successful creative life where in reality my soul was fading. Yuge helped me rebuild this life, giving meaning to everything I do plus joined me in my love of art and the cultural world. It is an absolute honour to share my creative days and family nights and weekends with a person whose trajectory takes on what’s in her path in the most amazing way. Yuge is my greatest muse, my partner, my creative and life soulmate.
I’ve been making art for 35 years and I believe I push to the very edge – always. I have met some mind blowing people, I have read about creatives and I feel I have some understanding of what commitment it takes and who is a talent. Everyday Yuge grows in creative stature and I just stand back and watch in amazement as the indescribable essence and formula you need to build a creative life flows out of her. She is a remarkable creative talent and I can say hand on heart (not just because I love this person) that no creative I have ever met has given me goosebumps so often.
This could appear to be just a man in love with his wife and I suppose it’s hard to be impartial, but would you believe this is actually me toned down? Since I was a boy I have always been confused by people taking other people down, I was born in Sheffield in the UK and humility is demanded if you are wanting credibility, but I don’t believe it is healthy to not feel confident either, believe in your own trajectory, and that I do, but I also agree with what our seven year old said to me as we looked at the moon tonight.
“She (Yuge) is the best, she’s the sun, she’s the brightest and we are the little stars around her.”