Miriam Hyman died on the number 30 bus in Tavistock Square in the
I first met Miriam in 2000 when I started working as a picture researcher for BBC Books. We worked together on a book called The Human Face and from the beginning we got on very well. She was friendly, cheerful, easy going and I regarded her as more than a colleague from the start. I knew we would be friends. She was also a conscientious and hard-working professional and took great pleasure in laughing at my spreadsheets because they were so organised. It was a laugh of recognition about being a list obsessive! We had a few other things in common - we both studied French, were both interested in art, both suffering from ME and both loved the colour purple.
Over the five years I had the pleasure of knowing her, I can honestly say there was never a time when I did not totally enjoy her company. She was a great person to be with, even if it was just in the office - she was gentle, caring and funny. Often when we met, she would ask about my art - how I was getting on, if I had any photos of new paintings to show her, what was happening with the Stuckists. She had a great curiosity and interest in art and demonstrated this by coming to the Stuckist private view of the Real Turner Prize Show 2000 in Shoreditch, where I remember her talking to Philip Absolon about his paintings. She found him fascinating. She was also very supportive to me in my artistic endeavours and when she came to my first solo show One Big Experiment in Maldon, Essex, in June this year, she offered to take photos of the private view for me. Miriam was able to share enthusiasm for other people's projects and the day after the private view, she called me because she was excited about how my show had gone and the fact I had sold some pictures. As her close friends noted at her funeral, Miriam was a success in life because she genuinely cared about other people.
Her love and knowledge of art was fostered by both her parents - by going on frequent visits to all kinds of London art galleries with her Dad and seeing her Mum painting every afternoon whilst she was growing up. Miriam's mother, Mavis, who has painted for over 40 years, started first with acrylics and then moved into silk painting; she has expressed herself both in abstract and figurative ways, and uses an Indian-influenced palette from the continent where she grew up. Miriam studied Art History and French at University College London and spent a year abroad in Nice in the south of France. Whilst she had reservations about the town itself, she loved all of its galleries and her Dad recalled to me that when he and her Mum visited her there, they spent a wonderful afternoon up on the hill at the Matisse Museum. In her work as a picture researcher, Miriam worked on several books about art including Private Life of a Masterpiece as well as several major science books, her favourite being Planets. She also did silk painting and used small pieces to make numerous hand-made cards for friends' birthdays often adorned with sequins as well. The colours she used were rich - turquoise, purple, gold and reflected her Indian background I feel.
At times like this, when death and destruction have come to the fore, it makes me feel as though art is futile and not relevant to the issues of the world but I know that actually the opposite is true. Finding a means of communicating something of my inner world through painting is a way of expressing human spirituality which can only make us stronger and I know Miriam would want me to continue with my painting. My next exhibition at the Mercury Theatre, Colchester will be dedicated to her. I will miss Miriam greatly and will never forget the private view of my first solo show as it was the last time I saw her.