The Travelodge Rembrandt. (Part One).

Hope and ruin.
Hope and Ruin. Lewis Mclaughlin. 2017. Acrylic.

My childhood in Ayrshire was almost too protected. I grew up in a happy household and I was a happy kid, building dens, running around. Lots of kids are neglected, go to their room and self-harm or something, but art was never an escape like that for me. It’s not about losing negative feelings or even self-expression. I was just good at drawing.

Everyone’s good at something, but sometimes you can’t immediately see that, or your talent is something that’s not recognised at school. Art’s an easy one – other people can see your drawings as a kid and they praise you and then you realise you’ve got something you can do. Then, see, most people, they settle for the telly and beer and football or whatever. I used to do that, but then it didn’t satisfy me any more, I wanted to do something more interesting with myself.

I think if you’re creative, you often try lots of things. I’ve come full circle: at school, it was all drawing and football, they were the only things I enjoyed. I was ok at football, but I was good at art. Then I dropped it when I hit my teens – got into music, taught myself guitar. I knew I’d get a low scale job, minimum wage, I was failing at everything except art. After 8 years’ working as a signwriter, I went off travelling and that changed everything. I came back and learned to use a camera, a computer, did a film-making course in Greenock, worked on a few music videos – there was a scene around Paisley.

My Uncle Phil used to come up to Stevenston, he’d emigrated to Worthing years back. When I moved down here, he’d built me up to family and friends as this ‘artist’, see, and then I had to admit I’d not done any drawing for years. So I picked it up again and then over 5 years slowly shifted into painting.

My work takes me all over and they put me up in hotels. So I put down a huge sheet on the carpet, set up my easel and I paint at night. I mostly use acrylics cos they’re fast-drying and I can hide it all under the bed in the morning when I go out. I don’t want them to think I might do a Jackson Pollock or ruin their carpet or something. Then, when I leave, I carry the painting wrapped in that huge sheet and I wonder if they’re gonna stop me one day, thinking I’m stealing the TV – or their bedsheets or something?!  I lived five years like that, when I first came to Worthing: I didn’t have anyone to hang out with, didn’t know anybody and I wasn’t in the art community.  I was just working in the day and painting in the hotel room at night.

( Lewis Mclaughlin – FB page. Next instalment in 2 weeks: ).

Published by Caroline

After 30 years as an academic anthropologist doing ethnography in India and the Gulf, Caroline now avoids airports and spends a lot of time walking, cycling or quad skating around for conversations and stories in their adopted home of Worthing. Caroline does public sector consultancy work and project evaluation, using creative research methods. Caroline also writes. Find them on Substack at https://substack.com/@carolineosella. (Yes, there's a WIP and yes, it's a campus novel, but hang on - it's not a memoir, and it's not a thinly-disguised writeup of people and situations. I studied creative writing, trained, practiced and ** made it all up**).

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