This hangs above my TV. The top picture is by my mum, Rosie Birtwhistle, and the bottom two are by my dad, David Hensel.
Art and Experience, Life and Death
I’ve grown up surrounded by art and creativity. Ali, on seeing the house I grew up in, commented that it was like an art gallery. But almost everything in the walls is by one or other of my parents and to me it feels entirely comfortable and normal to be surrounded by art. Art galleries are some of my favourite places, although i’ve actually not been to one in far too long – I should rectify that!
Everyone in my family is creative. As well as my parents, I write (as you can tell right now!), and of my two older brothers, one is a photographer and the other was a musician.
Sadly the word “was” is very relevant. My brother, Will Hensel, died unexpectedly about a month ago, and my mum, Rosie Birtwhistle (her chosen nom de plume), died of cancer about 6 years ago. Death focuses the mind in unexpected ways. I have spent a long time thinking about art and people and expression and life – the four are inextricably linked. I think it is important to remember people, as Terry Pratchett said “A man is not dead while his name is still spoken”. So I speak their names here. I refuse to let my relationships with these people end in sadness, instead I say we learn from them.
I can hear a lot of my brother Will in this track, which he produced.
Art can instil emotions, or ideas, it can be challenging or comforting, threatening or protective, funny or sad. All this and more. Art allows us see the world in different ways, be it paintings, music, sculpture, dance, or anything else.
And it is this I think we must learn from these wonderful people.