For the love of art…

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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.
 
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16 Comments

  1. Amara June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Such a phenomenal artist and I know others, like myself, fell in love with that painting the moment we saw it .

    • Claudia June 11, 2020
      Reply

      Me encanta leerlo Mr. Holland, y comparto su opinión respecto al arte.

  2. Emilee June 7, 2020
    Reply

    I’ve been looking forward to Sunday, to reading your blog, it’s been a rough week. I too am in awe of those who excel in painting and drawing. Stephen’s painting is absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing this memory and experience with us all.

  3. hannah June 7, 2020
    Reply

    This blog has got to be one of my favourites Dom ! not only because it falls on the day of my birthday but also because I can relate to this more than most other blogs. Me and my dad both share the same bad habits of leaving me and my sister at some points on holiday to go to small art shops. Most of our house now is filled with art or pottery from these places. One of our favourites is a painting of a famous golf course that was bought as a gift when I was discharged from hospital after 5 months and is hung up very proudly in our living room. As well as this, on my birthday I decided to write a post about someone that means a lot to me and how they have helped me in the year. I try do it most years though not all, but this year your son Tom has helped me get through the year. I wanted to say something for him, to thank him but I didn’t know how I would ever get him too see it. It’s more a present I give to someone else I guess as a thank you. I was wondering if you were able to point him in the direction of it you don’t have to and I questioned asking this for a very long time in case I seemed rude or dismissive . Again you don’t have to and I won’t be offended if you don’t but my Instagram is hannahcroshaw_. Hope your all okay and I am very excited for your book !!

  4. Carla June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Such an incredible blog! My Sundays are better because of it, thank you
    We must admire and support those we like. The world has so much evil, we need to spread more kindness and love!
    By the way, I admire you! Have a good day, lots of love! ❤️

  5. Pamela June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Having the opportunity to read about the artist behind the painting is a pleasure! Stephen is an incredible artist! His paintings are stunning and I hopped over to his Instagram page to check out his other masterpieces! The details are amazing! He has a new admirer of his art!!

    • Aimee June 7, 2020
      Reply

      Thank you for this feel good story & the reminder. I have a creative type daughter & when she gifts someone with a simple drawing and they hang it up, it means the world to her. Art truly makes the world a more beautiful place.

  6. Jess June 7, 2020
    Reply

    We have a annual arts fair in December and last year, we got two beautiful handcrafted out of wood fridge mangets; potraying the landscape of Bhutan. (Every little minute detail was so beautifully carved).

    I watched your Pub Quiz for The Lily Foundation a couple of days ago, and I want to say congratulations on beating Phil!

  7. Sydnee Coleman June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Lovely blog, as usual Mr. H. I love that you support artists, who need it. Speaking as an artist, It really does make our day when we are able to find someone else, who our work speaks to. I love the painting, and the candle sticks, both are gorgeous. My dad is the same as you, loves art, and for some reason he likes mine, even my awful work, that I wished would never see the light of day.

  8. David F. June 7, 2020
    Reply

    First of all, congratulations to Stephen, he is extremely talented! Thanks for letting me know, I’ll follow him on instagram immediately.
    Then I wanted to tell you that I share your thoughts, it’s nice to support others and value their talent so I can only say “chapeau”.
    P.s. I wrote you a message on Messenger on June 1st, if you could read it you would make me happy! ❤

  9. Sara June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Stephen’s art is amazing – I hope he has a very successful career. For me it is dancers that I admire and wish I could emulate (yes – Tom’s dancing is how I came to follow the Holland family!). As an adult tap dancer with two very clumsy left feet – I am in awe of everyone that can hold a rhythm with their body.

  10. AG June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Beautiful blog…
    and Stephen’s paintings are amazing.
    And more importantly, it is astonishing how you and your family are always trying to find ways to support and help out others.
    And Tom seems such a kind, humble and thoughtful person, and so well spoken and well mannered. You and Nikki should be very proud of him.
    Have just pre-ordered The Fruit Bowl. Looking forward to getting my copy.

  11. Márcia Malaquias June 7, 2020
    Reply

    Great Talent, Tom’s gym was beautiful :), I love the social work that your family does and I hope one sees photos of this incredible and short vacation, Do not be discouraged by what is happening in the world have Faith and never wait for others to do good. P.S: Waiting for the podcast with Tom (free because I can’t pay for now, difficult situation here in Brazil)

    Love

    ♥️✊✊

  12. Beth June 8, 2020
    Reply

    Oh wow! The candles are very beautiful and unique!
    I love art (…and the arts). It is very hard to work on a large scale and pull it off wonderfully- so I too really admire those artists that can do it. I’m know Kandisky or Van Gogh, but I love art- it is rather relaxing (but can be very stressful at the same time!) Maybe you should try doing some art Dom.

  13. Audrey June 8, 2020
    Reply

    Dom,

    Beautiful story. You and your family live with so much positive intentions to do the right thing. That quality is the most admirable in a person, even if they aren’t a world class athlete or a scratch golfer or a Pulitzer writer. You’re an accomplished person and a major contributor to society. That’s the best trait to be admired for, I wish more people would work on that skill.
    Keep that in mind when you have a dreaded shank off the tee.

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