“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls” Pablo Picasso

My husband’s very first gift to me was a painting. I was shocked and not quite sure how to respond. We’d been together just a few months and at 24 years old nobody had ever given me art before. It seemed extremely grown up. The work was an abstract painting on canvas by the hugely charasmatic and talented late Paul Benjamins. Over the following weeks I spent hours absorbed in the painting (which was conviently positioned right by the television in my tiny studio flat), reflecting on the colour palette, the shapes, the meaning. It pleased me but I couldn’t work out why. In fact it made my heart sing (which I believe all good art should do).

Paul invited me to his studio, a delightful secret den of turpentine bottles, paint splattered wooden flooring and cigarette butts, where he talked eloquently about his work, artistic beliefs and inspirations. The painting took root in my life as Matt and I moved house, married and later became parents.

There are some artworks we have bought over the years that I admit to having fallen out of love with (Paul’s is not one of them!) but they tend to be the ones that I have less of a connection with. The art that means the most to me is that where I have met the artist, discussed the work, shared a coffee or beer and spent hours losing myself in the details. Artists have a unique way of looking at the world, especially those working in the abstract sphere. I love how art makes me step a little bit out of my comfort zone and view the world from a different perspective – its good for the soul!

I have stories about all the art we live with, the meaning, the relevance and poignancies, but Paul’s work has a particularly special place in my heart, which still sings every time I look at it. I am often asked about the art we have in our house, where its from, how we chose it, how we decide what to put where, so I’ll be covering these topics in future posts.

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