Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Let me tell you a story!

There is a small island just off the Cambodian coast in the eastern gulf of Thailand.
I've spent many months if not years there, procrastinating, at play, training, painting and being an idyll island bum. In fact, after a quick calculation I reckon I've spent somewhere in the region of three years of my life on that small island outcrop.

As you can imagine I have many stories and tales from this place. The island holds a special interest in my heart and I feel many miraculous things happened for me there. One being it's the place I met my wife and another in finding my calling in art.

The story I want to share with you today has a more sinister side to it or perhaps not, depending on which side of the fence you stand.

One beautiful clear Thai winters day a young English man arrived on the island after a trip to the mainland. He brought with him several grams of Opium! I'd seen drugs on the island before but in all my years there had never heard of opium being available in this region.

A great deal of the opium was smoked in various cheap knock-off oriental style pipes or rolled in tobacco joints. Several grams of the opium was ingested by infusing it in a hot tea!

Within a couple of hours a palpable air of change took place. The atmosphere in the resort became other worldly. It's occupants in a zombified stupor. Everyone was 'out of it' and insular. Akin to being wrapped up in a ball of cotton. No one ate or washed for what seemed like days. Communication among the lodgers became rare. I remember the cook asking questions - why is no one eating, why are there no orders of milkshakes and the usual dishes to the kitchen? What happened to the seven o'clock rush for dinner?

So, what happened? Well, long term I suppose as the opium dried up the people who came and took part made moves to find more of the same further afield. The place returned to normality and island life began again.

I made several mixed media drawings on paper in my notebook trying desperately to capture the atmosphere of change before it slipped my reach. As I set up this recent still life with a dried opium pod and an old tin pot I was reminded of those few dreamy days by the sea on the secluded island I liked to think I knew so well.


Opium Pod and Tin Pot - oil on linen - 20"x20"
Contact richardhearns@gmail.com for availability and pricing.

#stories #thailand #island #artist #richardhearns #stilllife #representational #painting #opium #pod #tinteapot

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