Beauty. What is it? The broadest definition: a combination of qualities that pleases.

For me it is stronger, something that causes a mental intake of breath, a sprinkling of awe. I don't use the word lightly. It is not the same as pretty, nice, or gently pleasant. It affects you and stays with you, extending beyond the moment of its existence.

Beauty doesn't just exist in objects. It could be a face, the way the light reflects off a stream, a painting, a word combination, an action you hear about or witness. Back when I studied geology I had no interest in the aspects about how humans exploited the earth for fossil fuels; instead I loved being in the lab, able to hold pieces of mineral, examining how they felt, reflected, shone. A sliver of olivine glinting in the late afternoon light that signalled the end of study might bring beauty into my life. Reading by the lake, alone but contented, and glancing up at the water - that brought beauty.

Since beauty is personal to you, the observer, it can't be objectively measured. We all value different things. Of course, some things are seen as beautiful more widely, and are more likely to gain general consent that they contain beauty.

I think art is about trying to communicate it to others. To have an effect on the observer, listener, reader; to give them something of value. A message, an experience. Deep or shallow, permanent or ephemeral. If we create even a moment of that in others, we have succeeded. This is reciprocated from the other end: for the consumer, the reader, the art gallery visitor, there is often an element of seeking for this feeling. We search for those experiences, the sparks called beauty.

I apologise that I have not been here much - personal issues which I'll expand on at a later time. But it was time to communicate something. And what better thing to talk about than this. I wish you all beauty in your lives.