Holidays in the sun. 

June 13, 2017

I have always been very wary of the urge to meddle, particularly as I hate it when clueless but well meaning people do it with things I have been personally affected by. This is probably where I would usually go off on a rant but I want this to be a bit more focused that my usual rambling and tangential waffle. I walked into town a couple of weeks ago along the Hastings sea front, I don’t do it very often and I was shocked to discover that a group of homeless people had set up camp on the beach. The last time I had seen anything like thing was during the late eighties and I worked near Waterloo station where cardboard city, a shanty town for the homeless, had sprung up in the underpasses around the station. It was like something out of mad max or the future world in the first terminator film. There was something deeply strange about this seaside encampment though, whilst there is never anything jolly about being homeless (I have been so myself), if you didn’t read the context for the people being their, you could be forgiven for reading to situation as a nice little seaside vacation.  It was a situation I felt a need to document as I suspected (quite rightly it turned out) that it wouldn’t be allowed to remain there for very long.

One thing that have been a constant in my work over the last couple of decades is the documentation of appalling things using overly cute and benign seeming imagery. I have found that it is easier to get a message across if people aren’t aware that they are being given one in the first place. This is what I tried to achieve in the new painting, Holidays in the Sun, a happy sounding title that also happens to be a song by the Sex Pistols. It’s all smiles and sunshine and camping at first sight until you think about why the postman looks so bemused. One of the worst things about being homeless is the lack of a postal address, you are instantly a non person in regards to getting benefits, let alone applying for a job.

 I decided that this painting would be going up on eBay for charity before I even started it, initially I was just going to take the money to the campers and buy them a load of provisions but as they have already  been moved on I felt it would make more sense to have the money go directly to the St Mungos  who run a homeless shelters and help and rehabilitation for the initial causes of homelessness. I am aware that someone will probably read what I’m doing wrongly or see some cynicism in it and kick off. That is really up to them I guess, I can’t control anyone else’s responses, only my own, which was that this occurrence needed to be documented for posterity in some way. There are far more offensive things that go on in this town in regards to the homeless, if you want to get angry about something then I can happily furnish you with a list of people who demean and patronise the poor and vulnerable hereabout and get paid for the privilege of doing so. Anyway, I said I wouldn’t go off on a rant today so here is the link, happy bidding! 

Boxing Day Came early this year.

September 26, 2015

beardyhatI’ve not had my eye on the ball much recently. Things keep slipping past me as I’ve dissapeared inside myself but this jerked me back for a moment. W.T.F? What the fucking fuck? Let me get this straight, the Seaview project of St Leonard’s held a charity sleep out in a box event…. I want that to sink in for a moment…. They got people to sleep out, in a box, for charity, for one night.

Little known fact, I actually have been homeless. True it was the “sofa surfing, where the hell do I get that form sent? Slip through the cracks and lose everything I ever owned before finding my feet and slowly rebuilding my life over fifteen years homeless” rather than the “I’ve just been moved on by the old bill for messing up someone’s nice and tidy park bench for the tenth time tonight, maybe if I drink some more special brew my problems will go away for one blissful moment ” homeless but I know that terrifying feeling of touching the void.

I recognise a lot of names on the guest list, there are people who were partying in bottle ally during coastal currents (where the fuck do you think people went when you were having a knees up in their bedroom?) and others who shun and defriend the mentally ill at the drop of a hat. What fucking hypocrites you are! I personally know a few Seaview clients, I have painted a few and am happy to chat for a while. But they are proud people and a lot of them aren’t very well in one way or another.I have even been in there myself a few times for advice. No one wants to end up homeless and it is always much nearer than you think, one lost job, one broke relationship, a death in the family, too much stress and bang! There you are on your arse with your world in pieces.captain black

One question really intrigues me…. Was there a bar? Because if there was then someone really needs their arse kicking. Also, did they get woken up by the police ten times a night? Did anyone piss on them, put the boot in, rummage through their pockets? Did anyone have a go at them for owning a mobile phone, for having a cigarette or doing anything other than grovel and fawn in the dirt like the scum they are assumed to be? You can’t walk away from that sort of poverty back to your nice home, you can’t walk away from the skin diseases, the heart, liver and brain damage either. This is real and nasty and dibilatating. Some dirt never comes off.

Words fail…. What next? How about this! Find some striped pyjamas, scrawl a number on your arm with a marker pen and book a trip to Auschwitz. But Hey! It’s for charity!

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