This is a post about people we admire. A post I have been looking forward to writing all year.
And timely, too - six months on from my first post of the year – writing about The Lunch Bowl Network in Kenya. Arguably my most important post and well worth a read – even if I say so myself.
In all walks of life, we encounter people whom we admire.
During lockdown I have watched more TV than usual including the documentaries; The Tiger King featuring no one at all I admired and in stark contrast, The Last Dance featuring the extraordinary Michael Jordan and others. Surely, the Tiger Woods doc cannot be too far off and what sensational viewing this make - particularly for anyone who has ever been vanquished by the hardest game of them all.
But it is easy and obvious to admire such luminaries – and more fun I suggest to admire people who are more accessible and whose talent we are able to support and influence.
Portrait Artist of the Year is another TV show that I have enjoyed during lockdown. Art being something I have always admired. I revered and was beguiled by the kids at school who could draw. Gerry Edwards, Adam Dicks if you’re out there… I still have Gerry’s caricatures of me (I have a face for it, I know) and I am so proud that Adam is now a successful artist.
I admire people who can do things that I can’t.
People who can draw and people who can keep a golf ball within the confines of the course.
Our holiday in Kenya this year had been remarkable for many reasons which I won’t repeat here. Any family holiday in these Corona virus days should be cherished and particularly so a Kenyan holiday combining a safari and a week in Nairobi. Not a cheap getaway and more than my ‘funny’ can afford these days and so Tom weighed in with a slug to make it possible.
Tom and Harry left the holiday early, flying off to Morocco to complete the filming of Cherry.
On our last night, our hosts the McGreevy’s, who founded and run Lunch Bowl – took us to a restaurant, where we encountered an artist called, Stephen Nyaga.
Like an artist in residence, Stephen's work adorned every wall of the restaurant and on the floor, amidst the bustle of diners and waiters, Stephen was busy at his easel, creating his latest painting. And, obviously in the hope of a sale.
There are many reasons why people buy art…
Because we like a painting and we need to fill the spaces in our lives.
Possibly in the hope that a painting will accrue value although for ordinary people and purchases, this almost never happens.
To create and solidify memories of where we have been.
But also there is pleasure in being able to support people. The people we admire. The people who do things that we can't. The painter, the wood carver, the glass blower, the silversmith…
Many moons ago, I was tired having played The Comedy Store all weekend in London. We got paid cash in those days and on our way to see my folks for lunch, Nikki and I stopped off at an art fair – including all manner of artists. Some with great wares and others with much work to do.
In the former category was a silversmith. A cool looking guy up from Brighton to the Big Smoke with his beautiful work. But his display was full and sales had been disappointing .
Two of his candlesticks caught my eye.
Did you make these yourself? Are they silver? And, how much are they? I asked.
Yes. Yes. And £800. He replied.
Which happened to be how much cash my jokes at The Comedy Store had garnered. A sign, surely? I smiled and we shook hands. SOLD. And they remain a cherished possession of ours, on permanent display at home and a few times each year, on our dining table and all lit up.
Anyway, back to that Nairobi restaurant. The food is fab, spirits are high and between courses, Nikki and I have taken in Stephen’s work and congratulated him. He was polite but busy and I’m sure would have preferred a sale to a plaudit.
One painting had caught our attention – and since we were thinking of a present for Tom as a thank you for making the holiday possible…
Dessert is wolfed down because we have a plane to catch - but not before we are able to make Stephen’s night and a perfect way to round off a memorable holiday.
Stephen is thrilled. And I am excited too, because I know whose wall his work will hang on. I want to share this news with him but it doesn’t feel that the time is right. The restaurant is noisy, he might mishear or not even comprehend. Tom who?
But I did tell him that I would like to help him. I felt confident that I could and that the right time to demonstrate this would just occur in the way that good things in life always tend to emerge.
Which happened when this photo of Tom and Harry was posted from our first Brothers Trust lockdown quiz. I was thrilled to be able to share it with Stephen.
Since posting on Instagram, his followers have tripled and I know that there have been some enquires for his work. If you like the idea of supporting artists, do visit his Instagram @nyaga104 and if you like his work, you might follow him and leave a comment.
His large black and white paintings are beautiful. I admire him and I would love it if more people came to enjoy his talent.
Dominic's new novel, The Fruit Bowl will be published on 13th July and can be pre-ordered here
If you enjoy Dominic's blog, his Patreon
site is full of further content including exclusive blogs, podcasts and videos.