Ben Keenan: Quality time spent in the presence of genius

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I have always enjoyed art but often find it difficult to understand why some works are considered a masterpiece and others pieces not.

Apparently, those in the world of professional art criticism award the title to certain examples which have met all the criteria required to be classified a masterpiece which is fair enough but art, like most creative things in life, is more about our personal preference than a professional point of view. One person’s Sunflowers is another persons un-made bed and with awards like the Turner Prize constantly blurring the lines of what we see as artistic endeavour, more often than not, a piece is labelled a work of art that makes most of us scratch our heads and wonder why.

This week I was introduced to the work of a local man named Michael Wiggins. Mr Wiggins never fulfilled his ambition to go to art school and worked in the aviation industry for decades until, in 2002, when his circumstances changed and what he calls a ‘re-emergence of creativity’ took place. His work brings to mind that of M C Escher and H R Giger but has an identity of its own which completely overwhelmed me when I first saw it.

I logged on to his website at and, before I knew it, resurfaced three hours later knowing full well I had spent some quality time in the presence of genius.

What I love most about his work is that it won’t appeal to everyone and imagine many art aficionados would dismiss it as too surreal and puzzling, but in a world where the term masterpiece can be given to a small pile of house bricks and a pickled shark, pure talent like Michael Wiggins’ deserves to be recognised, studied and celebrated.