Collecting Hidden Beauty

Sometimes, on my walks, I like to play a little game.

I call it Alleyway to Art Gallery.

Something catches my eye —  a piece of rust, moss on a worn fence, a shattered windshield,  even some crumpled paper floating in the gutter.

At that moment, in that light, it is astonishing.

That’s how the game begins.

Part two is imagining that the little piece of beauty has been magically transported from the gutter to a pristine white gallery.

The lighting and ambience are perfect. The exhibited piece is HUGE. Twenty feet high.

Perhaps sparkling wine is being served …

The colours, the textures! It’s stunning.

In some ways, the game can be a little depressing since the imaginary exhibit is far more gorgeous and spontaneous than anything I’m likely to create.

But, therein lies the fun of it. It’s an inspiration. Something to aspire to.

Plus, before you know it, I’ve been on a little fantasy VAG, MoMA, or Tate Modern trip during the course of a dog walk.

It’s my little secret. Until it wears away, blows away, or the light changes, it’s part of my own private collection.

The pictures in this blog are of a treasure I found in a local alleyway around this time last year.

As you can see in the photo above,  the alleyway in question did not seem, at first glance, to hold a lot of promise. I can’t remember how exactly I came to notice it. Perhaps Geordie wanted to pee on it.

It was a large painting, done on some sort of wood veneer with thick, swirling sweeps of paint. Hard to say if was acrylic or oil paint, or what the original subject was.

I’m not sure how long it had been languishing in they alley when I found it, but much of the paint had worn off and the wooden base had started to de-laminate. Moss was beginning to colonize parts of the wood, and windy weather had caused brilliant fall leaves to pile up in front of it.

One or two other leaves had become plastered to the old painting and random, yet somehow perfect, intervals.

It was one of those overcast, damp days where the sky is a dull grey, but all terrestrial colours seem extra bright to compensate. Flecks of blue left in the painting, and the touches of red in the autumn leaves, seemed to add little jolts of electricity to the overall composition.

I visited my little secret art show several times over the next few weeks, until it disappeared under the winter snow.

I considered all the the elements that went into the accidental “installation”.

The painter and their original inspiration.

The decisions and/or circumstances that led to the painting being abandoned in the alley.

The wind, the leaves, the moss, the light.

My decision to walk that way that day.

Geordie’s sudden need to pee.

Somehow this little game brings me much joy.

More and more I’m trying to find ways to steer my mind onto calmer pathways and thinking about beauty and serendipity makes a welcome change from too much news or  the never-ending “to-do” list.

I recommend it.


If you enjoyed this post, you may also like, The Gift.

















17 thoughts on “Collecting Hidden Beauty

  1. Thank you for setting the tone for my holiday season in such a beautiful way. Here in the USA for me, it’s Halloween and take a deep breath because the fast ride begins and ends with the New Year. I play a similar game (henceforth to be called June’s game) and it gives such beauty and pleasure. Just love your images in both this post and The Gift.

  2. I especially like today’s entry, June. What a nice eye you have to the world’s accidental beauties, and a nice way of describing it all. I like looking at hidden gems too; old graffitied walls are a favorite, with all the layers of peeling paint peeking between the cracks.

  3. Thank you for this reminder. I am fortunate in that I have two grandchildren (aged 3 1/2 and 16 months) and their presence helps and reminds me to look at the world through eyes of the constant wonderment that they do. They are both enchanted and mesmerized by the movement of leaves on a bush or tree – a meditation, if you will.

    I sincerely hope to meet you in person one of these fine days; I look forward to your musings always.

    • Thanks, Diane. So lucky to have your grandchildren as guides to the wonder of everything. None for me so far, but I do remember my kids being little and the stories they’d make up about things we found out in nature. Looking forward to meeting you too one day day.

  4. Hi June,

    Amazing! What a gift that you were able to see this before it was gone. I love discoveries like that. Some of my favourites are when I stumble upon art people have done on their garage doors, or created and displayed on their front steps/porches. There is inspiration all around us!

    Happy Friday,
    Corinne Palmer
    The Painting Crow

    • Oh, yes – there’s an amazing painting on garage doors somewhere in an alley between Nanaimo and Renfrew and between Hastings and Dundas. I found it a couple of times on wanders but I can never remember exactly where it was (which is part of the fun, I guess). I think it includes some ducks …

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  9. Thank you so much for this. Your beautifully worded advice really resonated with me. There are so many gifts missed by rushing through our days when it’s often not necessary. Just a moment’s pause while walking and they are presented to us. And as to gifts, your blog is surely one to me!

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