Some time in the mid-eighties, in the early hours, walking the streets of North London, I was accosted by a stranger. Being me, I was easily drawn into conversation. Nicely drunk, he was insistent that his father’s house had many rooms. His face was animated as he kept repeating the fact, drawing great satisfaction from the comfort and acceptance he found in the words attributed to St John.
His belief resonated with my own sense of yearning for home; a place; a starting point. I couldn’t stop myself from travelling from one address to another and another… and another. Led by circumstance, fate, bad luck; a flow dictated by a mix of fear and determination, life was dominated by two things: the need to make art and the will to avoid legalised electrocution in the arms of the NHS.
I had no choice but to disassemble the odd, disturbing set of cards I was handed in early life. A dystopian view of the world was drummed into me by a religious fanaticism, which preached Armageddon for 1975. I learnt to disbelieve pretty much everything… although a part of me waits patiently.
Poetry, drawing and painting were, and still are, a survival mechanism. The poems and drawings in 100 Houses represent some of this journey. They are a starting point for capturing responses to themes around homelessness and the impact of the mental health system on the lives of those who become immersed in it.
Further information on my illustrated collection ’100 Houses’ can be found at:
Colin Hambrook February 2011