It was Christmas day, 2013. I had just returned from my first trip to New York a week before and was getting ready to spend the morning in my London apartment, watching Dr Who and Batman films when I got a phone call from my Dad.
"Your Grandad has had a stroke…"
At that moment, I knew it wouldn't be long until I got another phone call to tell me he would pass. Sure enough, after refusing to go to the hospital with the paramedics, he died that evening in his own bed. Stubborn and proud to the end.
My Grandad Bryn was the catalyst for me having a career in art. From a young age, he taught me that if I wanted something in life, I could use my talents in art to get what I wanted. As a child, we would trade drawings and in doing so, instilled an entrepreneurial seed that would flourish later in life. Grandad Bryn was also an artist of sorts. He wrote poetry, drew cartoons and combined them to create a bespoke birthday card for all of his Grandkids every year. On the back would read 'This card is a Bryn Simmons original, composed and compiled only for you.'
He was a proud, often mysterious man. He was covered in tattoos from his Navy days and more often than not, only seen in his favourite chair, watching TV with a deck of cards and a bowl of toffees next to him.
In a lot of ways, these character traits with art, poetry, tattoos and his enigmatic personality had skipped a generation to me. It wouldn't be until the day after Christmas that my Dad and brother drove to see my Grandma that a mysterious discovery would set me on this new path with writing.
As I sat downstairs, reminiscing with my Grandma, a locked briefcase was found under my Grandads bed. After a short time, we cracked the lock and found a treasure trove of books, stories, poetry and more in my Grandads telltale beautiful handwriting. It turns out when he wasn't in his chair downstairs with his bowl of toffees, he was upstairs in his small bedroom, handwriting books and books worth of stories.
Such a discovery would be exciting for a lot of people. While there was a curious excitement about what the contents could hold, the whole thing was tinged with sadness for me. Why had he never shared these works with anyone? Why had he kept them all locked in a briefcase, buried beneath the bed he died in? Whether it was a private past time for his eyes only or fear of ridicule, it made me curious to see if this talent had also skipped a generation.
Growing up, I was always a fan of storytelling. It was the visual, artistic creators that lured me in, and I followed that path. I have been working in the art world for over a decade now. I have exhibited my paintings globally in galleries, museums and on street walls, but ever since the discovery of the suitcase full of hidden books, I had a question mark over whether I could transition from telling stories with art, and do it in words too.
The Prism has been a long process. I began making notes, writing short stories and mind mapping ideas soon after my Grandads funeral. After several rewrites and working on and off between gallery shows, I have completed this first book. My Grandad may have never seen his name printed on the cover of a book, but my hope is that through The Prism, there will be the name Simmons on a published book and it will be in his memory.
Thank you for inspiring me Grandad.
28th July 1930 - 25th December 2013