The Study of Beauty

One of my favourite places growing up was the Manchester Art Gallery. In there you’ll find a quote plastered on the wall in large print by the man who started it, Thomas Horsfall, saying:


“If we have a strong love of beauty, the most beautiful things we see become a part of ourselves.”


The quote comes from a paper called The Study of Beauty, where Horsfall talks about his ideas on the moral and educational role of art in society. The essence of his argument was this; seeing, experiencing and valuing beautiful things on the outside can make us more beautiful on the inside.


We live in a world where the ugly is easy to find and sometimes hard to tear your eyes away from. Sometimes we may not even want to, such is the state of our hearts. Proverbs 12:27 says:


“Whoever seeks good finds favour,

But evil comes to one who searches for it.”


Once, when I was coming out of a valley in my life, I decided to make a list of things that might bring me some enjoyment, a list of things to do that might lift my countenance. I thought about the time I visited Fyvie Castle. We were in the big hall where there’s a grand piano in front of big majestic window and a stranger sat down and started to play. I have absolutely no idea what the song was called. But as he played the notes I stopped in my tracks and couldn’t move an inch whilst the music washed over me. For a moment, I was captivated by something for the purest reason: because it was beautiful, and I could not help but stop and absorb that beauty until the moment had passed.


God makes beautiful things, and because we are made in His likeness, we need beauty in our lives. It is a very part of us and without it our lives can become a canvas full of grey scenes; a lost sailor in a coracle drifting between islands, surrounded by lonely rocks who give nothing and receive nothing. God brings light and beauty to the landscapes of our lives and we should pursue and chase such things without ever giving up.

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