Four Faces of Happiness

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Four Faces of Happiness

What makes us happy? Here are just four faces of happiness, as depicted by artists whose work I admire. (Photos taken by me from books in my collection)


Happiness  Beryl Cook

The late, Beryl Cook, one of my favourite artists, captures a night out: a group of women friends unwind and have a good laugh together. The woman in the foreground, cracking-up with laughter, makes me happy every time I see it. To be able to relax with friends, say daft, easy things. Priceless.


This wood engraving by Beth Krommen of the mother feeding her child symbolises the physical and emotional closeness and intimacy that flows from being close to a cherished and animate being. We all need this in our life.


The John Lawrence wood engraving of the dancers represents the unity and sense of belonging we can feel when part of any community – be it a neighbourhood, workplace, congregation, whatever. Earlier in 2014 the Tour de France came through the middle of our small town. With a week to go before the race local folk had decorated the town yellow. Bunting hung from every shop. Hundreds of teeshirts had been knitted or sewn in tour colours and hung from railings, in shop windows and on trees. Bicycles painted or decorated yellow began to appear outside shops, on top of shops, inside shops; everywhere. Shopkeepers and local residents hoisted baskets of yellow flowers outside their property – and it was rumoured one local farmer had even sprayed his flock of sheep yellow. On the day the tour passed through, the roads were closed and the townsfolk began to party. All along the length of the town, and the roads leading into and out of it, people gathered in groups, chatted, laughed, drank wine, danced and jigged to the music spilling out of the houses. It felt good to be part of this place. It meant home, friendship, neighbourliness, community.


Happiness is fleeting. Over-striving for it can be counter-productive. What matters more is contentment. Aiming for contentment in life is a more realistic ambition. What gives me contentment? The engraving by Rachel Reckitt of the reader sprawled on the grass sums it up for me. Some quiet ‘me’ time, with a book, a movie on DVD, some wine. More wine. Contentment.

What scene would you draw to represent happiness in your life?


Colin Neville is a retired university teacher, author of four non-fiction books (on education and local history topics), online seller of art & design-related fine and limited edition books, gardener, chef, granddad.He lives in West Yorkshire, near Ilkley. Currently working on developing an information database of Bradford (Yorkshire) born artists, past and present.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. The wood engravings, pictures 2 – 4, are the most amazing, Merry, as these are made by the three engravers carving lines in relief into wood and printing the 3D image created; very creative and painstaking work. I guess one of the pleasures of art is the way that individual interpretations and responses can be made by all those who see the artwork.

  2. I think it is lovely you can see so much in your artist’s drawings. Wouldn’t he be pleased? They do make one wan to look closer (and no I don’t mean just the first photo either). The detail and the backgrounds are wonderful, as are the expressions.

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