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I started collecting art with an unexpected Christmas gift from my grandmother. She left Egypt about the same time as my parents, coming with her husband and my youngest aunt. Her husband had a fatal stroke shortly after their arrival, so she was alone with my aunt. They both settled in Toronto for a while and she became a teacher. When she retired, she moved to Montreal, where she lived with her sisters and a number of old neighbors – all of them widows. They had a rich life, visiting each other, playing cards, enjoying their grandchildren. We called her tetta Laurice, she was much loved by all of us.

Tetta had reached the age where she could no longer manage to go out and buys us gifts, so she’d give us money to buy ourselves a treat with. We would wrap them and make a big show of being surprised when we opened the gifts with her on Christmas day. One year, the money in the early Christmas card was an order of magnitude more than usual. I decided on an etching I had been enjoying from a distance in an art gallery close to where I lived at the time. This first piece reminds me of the expanse of life and of my grandmother’s love. I’ve been collecting ever since.

My husband Ed and I love to travel. Several years ago, I asked him to photograph the pieces that most spoke to me as we toured museums around the world. I conceived this idea of a book of short stories: strangers meeting in front of a piece of art. Here are a few of these stories for you to enjoy. I’ll keep adding to these as time goes on so check back.

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