Wednesday, August 25, 2010


drawings from a smoke filled room.

title inspired by James, one of the loveliest person I met at Carrical. I guess I should explain what Carrical is.

Carrical is a Rooming House based in Hawthorn. This is a rooming house for low income people, so that they have a place to live. It currently houses 29 residents. A lot of the residents have had hard lives, majority of them having some sort of mental illness like schizophrenia, manic depression, dealt with drugs, been in prison, all sorts of walks of life. What I've come to experience is that, they are people with incredible talent, and some of them with hopeful dreams. They are people who have a kind heart, just made a wrong decision somewhere along the line, or out of nowhere; their illness changed their life. These are the people that society has learnt to avoid them, to label them or they have been banish from society because of their past, because of their history. people that gets up and fight after being knock back over and over again.

I have formed incredible friendships over the past month, they have open their hearts and their minds to me: and i have accepted it whole heartedly without any judgment. In fact, if anything, I've come to respect them for their resilient and perseverance. They inspire me to live a better life, to look into the world and embrace everything: bad or good. Everyone struggles in their walks, just some more severe than others. But to be able to overcome that, it starts with the mind. It starts with the way you see things, the way you believe.

today, Alan allowed me to photograph him, i had to persuade him a little but he allowed me in the end. I personally would like to believe he felt special that I wanted to, it is an honour to know this man, an incredible amazing honour. He allowed me to view his room and to photograph it. It is a daunting task to allow a stranger to photograph your only, own personal space in this house. Everything else belongs to someone else, they share their bathrooms/kitchen/dining area. I am in absolute awe. A brief note: Alan suffers from schizomania. He has been institutionalized for at least 25 years, on and off. He takes 12 pills everyday, that averages out to 200 pills a week. This man views the world in a positive manner, he believes that he will recover from his illness, he embraces the mental hospitals (unlike a lot of other residents I've met), he believes in the system: that the people there are there to help him.

James is another character, he draws you see. He does these intricate drawings, they're not complex, infact if anything they are simple but you can tell he has talent. He says, one day he hopes to have a gallery of his drawings, and he'll call it 'drawings from a smoke filled room' The paper is brown, and scorched with burnt smell... almost like it adds another dimension to these drawings. It's amazing, what talent. At Carrical, because it's winter: it gets cold and I tend not to wear.. enough layers. He offers me a jacket, in fact he insisted i take it. So i did. Alan offers me jackets too, in fact, Alan and James are on and off buddies for 11 years. They met a long time ago in another rooming house. Alan offered me a ride to the station today because it was raining heavily. I'm incredibly grateful for that.

I brought in some photos i took from the past few weeks - just on cheap officework prints, but they were incredibly awe, they praise them. This brings me such joy, because they were genuinely honest. They wanted prints, i shall give them prints. James is a bit of a photographer himself, used to do it in high school. I brought in my Box Brownie to show him and he was happy about that. I really truly enjoy making the tiniest difference in someone's life. Even if it is to make them genuinely happy.

I'm so incredibly grateful to God for this opportunity. It is definitely a life-changing one. My body aches from being out for the entire day, from 9am to 11.30pm. However, I can't help but feel good despite the aches and cracks. It's currently 1am, and I'm up because I'm getting my photos ready for print to show to Neil tomorrow (I'm so excited!:)) Im heading to Carrical on thursday again. I'll have stories for you then and pictures (if you're lucky)

stay tune if you're reading.


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