I bought art.

I don't buy art, so this is surprising new behaviour.

I bought a Lou-Brice Léonard sculpture, called Doris.

The artist, who is a Frenchman, is clearly skilled at celebrating the gorgeous female form. Fair enough: the French do have a way with women.

I spotted her online in an art gallery on the other side of the planet in Cheltenham, London, and knew that I had to have her.

How good is the Internet? Instead of getting on a plane and carefully stuffing her in an overhead bin for the return journey, and then painfully being reminded by flight crew that "items may have shifted during the flight”, it was click, click, clickety click, a bit of email haggling, spank the credit card from abroad, then bags of bubble wrapping, DHL-a-rushin', customs quarantining and taxing, and she's mine.

The Internet, and technology. So good.

Technology is the main reason that I don't buy art, by the way. Because nerd, I see beauty in code and systems architecture, and would rather spend money on another server, home automation device or more cloud storage than on nick-nacks and wall installations.

Still, like the recent odd behaviour of finally crossing the threshold of a gym after fifty-odd years for the first time, which was in total jock disagreeance with being a nerd, albeit one trapped in a jock's body, I find now that I might be an art collector in a jock's body, too.

That's probably a stretch, given it's just two sculptures acquired in my collection so far. This one, and a nick-nack I scored in Santorini of a man and woman entwined, crafted from local volcanic rock. I bought my best friend a near identical twin piece, and she and I call them Bestie-Rock. One for her, and one for me. Besties rock.

So why did I buy this art?

I bought it because I think that Doris is a powerful visual metaphor for metastatic breast cancer.

I never want to forget metastatic breast cancer. I want to be confronted with it every single day. I want to be reminded how precious life is. I never want to forget, not for a second.

The photo doesn't do Doris justice. She was crafted by her snail-snapping creator incredibly using cement and shards of broken glass, with the complex, textured yet smooth skin of her body looking torn, exposing a shattered inside.

The smashed glass looks razor sharp, but arranged as it is I am compelled to nonsensically want to touch it, and run my fingers over its sharp edges, whether it cuts me or not. Light plays off the pieces beautifully, like a haphazardly cut gemstone, like pieces of broken diamond, urging the compulsion.

And her concrete bod should be cold and bleak, but instead it makes a wonderful canvas that pops with earthy detail, and a subtly sparkling warmth and life that again makes me want to feel her, and to expect her curves to be anything but cold.

How the fuck this artist put her together boggles my mind.

Therein lies the art, I suppose.

The huge tear through Doris's body fascinates me, looking as though it could have begun in her right breast, just like my beautiful Jude, and then ripped down her imperfect, but perfect form, to expose the chaos and beauty and fragility within.

Today marks twelve months since Judy was ripped away from mortal life by metastatic breast cancer. I didn't buy Doris to mark the anniversary, rather the two events are coincidentally serendipitous. Still, I can think of no more fitting symbolism to mark that anniversary than this acquisition.

She's installed in the Hutch, is Doris. It was Jude's second favourite place to be installed on the planet too, I think, with the Hutch being our heated all-year-round alfresco entertaining area up in the back yard. Jude's favourite place in the whole wide world, by the way was being on the balcony at my folk's tropical Trinity Beach apartment way up north, about 2,300km away. I'm sure she would have combined the two if she could, or would love to have been able to build a teleport walkway between them to alternate at will.

I have placed Doris against a mirrored backdrop to allow every detail of her gorgeous front and beautiful arse and sparkly innards to be taken in and appreciated with a single glance.

Jude was the one in our household with the more artistic eye. I mostly worked on lighting and the electronic systems, and labouring with a pragmatic eye, thinking of myself an effective designer.

But it was her work that crafted our front garden to look gorgeous, with parking for four cars incorporated, her being a rev-head, too. It was her work that styled our period Californian Bungalow home, and she directed re-bungalow-ing it beautifully in the wake of it having been horribly de-bung'd by its former owner. Our Jude added a tasteful modern feel. It was her work that styled the enviable modern-day Hutch, with the entire plan starting from an in-bench rubbish bin, and a bargain Franke sink bought on eBay. And it was her work that re-imagined a casual decked back yard, with integral backyard cricket pitch for the boys, complementing the renovated pool, framed by the Hutch beyond.

It's all magnificent. It is a Jude modern art creation, idealistic and practical at the same time.

Throughout the crafting, and re-imagining and styling process, I was her labourer, and I got real good at restoring early 20th century off-square Cal. Bung. walls to pristine, and painting them a treat, treating them as a kind of art. I also got real good at defending my perfectly restored wall canvasses when any mention of bashing holes in them to install art was mentioned. Given the hours that had gone into making them perfect sheets of mostly perfect pristine paintedness, I didn't want them tainted.

I feel like a bit of a dick for that, now.

The art and pictures were eventually hung (thank you, Karen), and I got over my wall thing forcibly, with someone else wielding the hammer and hangers. What a difference. I realised that the place looked incomplete before without adornment, so my resistance had been idiotic, my art being no match for Jude's. Our house came alive, and became a home. It was a cherry-on-top moment. What a complete dick.

While writing this, I find myself reflecting that art is super important.

Have I changed?

Art is all around us, and fascinates us, and inspires us, and challenges us. Sculptors find beautiful form in basic and unlikely component parts, like cement and busted glass. Scientists find beautiful things in discovery, many of them baffling. Chemists find captivating structures in compounds. Painters create images, and textures and semblances, not just flawless canvasses. It's all beautiful, and it's art. And yeah, nerds can create art with systems architecture, and I think that's beautiful, too. Don't judge us nerds.

So yeah, walls must be imperfectly adorned to be perfect, to become an extension of our very lives, just as mirrors need a worthwhile reflection to be a perfect mirror. I get it now.

Twelve months on since her death, have I changed? I didn't think so, but all this walking and gym going and more, and now art collecting and visual arranging makes me wonder. I'm roughly the same, but every day I surprise myself with little changes, and thoughts, and wonder where they're coming from, and where they're taking me. I feel like I know myself, but not completely yet. To borrow Doris's frog-leg-licking creator's tongue, I feel like there is more je ne sais quoi still to come for me.

I love Doris. I truly do. She evokes a lot, and she's a bit of a horn bag, too. When she arrived I felt like I was having an affair with a lump of concrete and glass. Ribs, curve and arse is how my bloke mind is wired, not so much boobs, so her compact curvy form stirs me up. Hers is so similar to Princess Judy Curvy Curls' gorgeous bod, so it's art that I really understand.

Jude's ribs were way better than Doris's, though.

Doris, original sculpture in cement and glass.
The image of Doris with the black background is used with permission. Copyright Paragon Gallery.
Thank you, James, and thank you Ellie. 😘 And, of course thank you Lou-Brice. You rock. 😘😘😘
https://www.paragongallery.co.uk/gallery#/loubrice-lonard-1