My son suffers addictions. I love him, but I hate the addiction. I am learning to live with this, and so is he. I have walked behind him in the streets of London as he staggered along the pavements looking for something to take away the pain, I have called the ambulance when he overdosed to teach me a lesson. And I have held his hand and heard him say thank you, and sorry.
There are so many of us; parents, friends, family, loved ones. A world I could not have imagined swallowed my son, and me, whole. I saw addicts coming in to places for help and try to be normal. Unable to keep up the pretence, their withdrawals would make them go mad as they waited and still they were not seen. It was terrifying and tragic. Who are they, I wanted to know, and how can anything be done?
And so, I am creating this difficult exhibition of paintings and words called Addicts and Those Who Love Them, because behind most addicts are people who love them and have been traumatised by the experience. I will be painting portraits of those caught up in the whole addiction story and asking them to say something of where they are, and how they feel. I want to capture something of the humanity of each person I paint, because even when my son was abject and on the streets, he was still someone I knew. I saw people look at him with disgust and I realised I would have looked at him with disgust too, if I had not known him so well. I was horrified and how easy it is to dismiss and judge. This is why I will be painting my sitters as saints and angels.
The money will go towards finding my sitters, working with them to create portraits and words, buying the materials for painting, writing and recording, and for paying for the venue in Brighton and the exhibition costs, plus all the travel costs involved. I work for free, and the exhibition is free because this subject is about all of us. I am so very grateful for your support in this project, every little counts and I could not do this without the help of all of you. I have already painted one exhibition about my son's addiction, and now I am working on a much bigger project because there are so many of us, and we all need to be seen and heard, even just a little. This is where you, and your generous support, come in. Thank you so much.
Addicts And Those Who Love Them opens as part of the Brighton Fringe Festival on May 2nd at the Macmillan Horizon Centre in Brighton, just next to the main Brighton Hospital.
Bless you and thank you. I am really grateful and I so look forward to seeing you in May at the opening.
My son as an angel wandering the streets (detail)
- Bruce Houlder
- caroline miller
- Deb Wilkes
- Arthur Lewbel
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