On a visit to my homeland of London I decided I would bring along a small painting of a boy, which I was given by my friend Laura, who is more of a ‘cat’ person. The painting had a somewhat haunting feeling to it and I had given it the title ‘Lonely’. Laura had found it in a thrift store in Tucson and I had always regarded the subject of the portrait as being of a small Mexican lad. I took it to a Tales From The Trash exhibition in California and it was bought by my friend Tom Laura. It turns out Mr. Laura only bought the painting because he liked the frame, and he proceeded to remove the canvas, walk off with the frame and return the painting to me. Which, in hindsight seems like the kind of thing Tom would do.
Stephen Wright is a delightful man, originally from the North of England, who has been transforming his home into a work of art for almost 20 years. The first thing he did upon welcoming Andy and I inside was to make us a lovely cup of tea. A short film explains how, after losing his long-time partner and both parents within a year of each other, Mr Wright felt totally alone and turned to his art as a way of coping with the loss. His entire house is being covered with mosaics, sculptures, assemblages, paintings, objects and knick-knacks. I remark to him that he has a lot of Mexican folk art and ask where he finds it all in London. He then starts to tell me a story:
Several years ago Stephen had a vision of himself as a young boy in Oaxaca Mexico, living in a very specific village in a very specific house. The house had a dirt floor and he saw his boy-self sitting on a bed by a window. He travelled to Oaxaca and somehow managed to find the house from his vision, knocked on the door and introduced himself (via his Mexican phrase book) to the owner, and was invited inside. It was almost exactly as he’d seen it in his dream, including a dirt floor, only it was a chair and not a bed by the window. Mr Wright calls his Dulwich house-cum-art-project The House Of Dreams.
When Stephen finishes telling me of his vision of being a small boy in a Mexican village a chill runs up my spine, which only adds to the goosebumps I’ve been feeling as he was talking. I tell him the tale of my ‘Lonely’ Mexican boy painting from Tucson Arizona, of how it has been sold twice but I still have it. I reach into the bag hanging from my shoulder and produce the twice-sold, unsold ‘Lonely’ Mexican boy painting. I show it to Stephen and tell him ‘I can’t explain how or why this painting is here with me in your house at this exact moment in time. I just know it most definitely is supposed to be with you’. I hand him the painting and tell him he can do whatever he chooses with it, it’s now his.
We’re both standing there and I’d say we were trembling, but I don’t want to speak for Stephen. I know that I was.
I’m also aware that I went to The House Of Dreams with Andy, who’s nickname is ‘Lucky’. And that Andy owns a building which he rents out to people for art shows, and that my own dream is to bring the Tales From The Trash art collection to London…
Stephen Wright offers tours of his home from time to time. A schedule is posted on his web site Stephen Wright, Artist
Brixton East 1871 is available for hire for all kinds of events, maybe even a Tales From The Trash Exhibition one day…
Harry Bloom is the Artist who kindly allowed me to hang my Trashy painting alongside his not-Trashy painting. He’s also my Dad.
Tom Laura (AKA Big Toe) is the Artist who first bought ‘Lonely’ but only for the frame, thank goodness.