“A person is alive according to the degree of his sense of wonder. He who has no wonder is dead, no matter how clever he is, or how much knowledge he possesses. The sense of wonder in a person is God.” — Cecil Collins

Cecil CollinsIn the mid-1980s, Maufroy met the artist and teacher Cecil Collins. Little did she know of the impact this encounter would have on her life. A full-time BBC journalist at the time, but in search of something more enriching emotionally and spiritually, she applied to a life drawing class at the St Martin School of Art, near Bush House where she worked.

The teacher, a man in his late 70s, was loved and almost worshipped by his students who battled successfully for him to continue teaching despite the pressures exerted on him to retire. She studied with him until his death, four years later in 1989.

Water colour Muriel Maufroy
Water colour by Muriel Maufroy

It was an exhilarating time. Collin’s teaching was based on the knowledge that art is born out of the relationship between one’s own deep self and what is being drawn or painted, in harmony with technical skill. Wonder, not cleverness, he kept saying, combined with inner silence or as he preferred to say,“emotions in repose”. Not very fashionable at the time and possibly even less so now.

This was like a door opening. Beyond the dry world of the intellect, rich and alive, was the world of creativity. “Without Cecil,” Muriel often says, “I would never have even begun to write.”