Dad's lonely death at centre of art show
A collection of ceramic art in a prestigious exhibition in the UK, has a poignant connection to Wexford and a man who died a lonely death here in the forest at Barntown more than 20 years ago.
Michael Anthony (Mick) Lindo, a 46-year old Jamaican from England, was found dead in early 1997 close to the makeshift shelter in Barntown wood where he lived a hermit's life for about five years.
His body was found by forestry workers on Monday, January 13 of that year and it was estimated that he had been dead for up to two months. It is believed he collapsed in the forest on his way home on a cold winter night.
About 40 people turned up for his funeral in Wexford, some of them customers from Heffernan's pub in south Main Street where he drank from time to time and residents of Coolree and Ballindinas who had a nodding acquaintance with him as he passed by on the road.
One Wexford person who had known him decribed Mr. Lindo as 'a gentleman who was quiet even when in company'. Unsuccessful efforts were made to contact relatives and he was buried in an unmarked grave in Crosstown Cemetery in February 1997.
The award-winning Devon-based ceramic artist Vicky Lindo was 16 years old when her dad died but she and her family knew nothing about his passing at the time.They had not heard from him in years after he disappeared one day and they never saw him again.
In 2004, seven years after his death, Vicky's eldest sister Khali discovered where he had been and learned that he had died alone in Wexford.
Vicky, her mother Christine and sisters Khali, Honey and Virginia travelled to Wexford to visit his grave and spoke to people who knew him when he lived here.
They kept a a diary which they called the Dead Dad Book about that journey to Ireland to find out what happened to Mick in the years he had been missing but they were left with many unanswered questions.
Vicky began thinking more about her father during coverage of the Windrush scandal in the UK and it changed the way she thought about him and others who were treated badly.
Her dad had travelled alone to England by aeroplane from Kingston, Jamaica around 1961 when he was 11 years old. He was sent for by his mother who was already living and working in London. He ran away from London in the early 1970's and went to live in Devon, meeting and marrying Vicky's mother.
They divorced some years later and he travelled to Ireland from where he sent a Christmas card a few times. He battled alcohol addiction during his life.
Recently, Vicky decided to produce some works based on Mick's story and her research into his life.
One of the pieces is a large ceramic pot inscribed with words taken from an article in the Wexford People about Mick's death which was written by this journalist following the tragic discovery of his body in Barntown at the time.
The works which she has produced with her partner and fellow artist William Brookes are currently on show at the British Ceramics Biennial under the title The Dead Dad Book.
After dabbling in ceramics in college, Vicky and Bill set up the Pigeon Club studio in 2013 with a plan to make ceramic objects alongside their day jobs of museum assistant and furniture maker.
Vicky had become obsessed by a collection of North Devon slipware at her place of work, the Burton Art Gallery and Museum.
Ceramics took over and both artists eventually left their jobs to concentrate on making decorative pieces inspired by ceramics and pottery from the past.
The pair work in a collaborative way, starting with sketches and drawn plans from which models are made. Plaster moulds are taken from the models and used to slipcast earthenware forms.
They decorate the work with a process called Sgraffito (used extensively by North Devon potters for centuries) which is the technique of covering unfired clay with a coloured slip or glaze and using a point to scratch through the top layer to reveal the clay underneath.
Vicky and Bill have 12 pieces based on Mick's story in the exhibition in the China Hall at the original Spode Factory Site in Stoke-on-Trent.
One pot is called Birth, Marriage and Death and was inspired by Vicky's sister Khali's discovery of their dad's death.
Khali was working in London in 2004 and as she drove past Somerset House she had the idea of finding her dad through the registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths.
She contacted the General Register Office in Dublin and was told he had died in 1997 in Wexford town from caridac arrhythmia.
'The idea of Birth, Marriage and Death has preoccupied me while thinking about my dad. I see his life in these three stages. We only knew him for the middle of his life but have found out a lot after his death from the people who knew him in Ireland.The beginning of his life still remains a mystery and I will continue to try and uncover his story', said Vicky.
'The beginning of his life still remains a mystery and I will continue to try and uncover his story', she said.
Another piece is the Michael Anthony Lindo (Memory Pot) and of this artwork Vicky said: 'My sisters and I all have some good memories of my dad and I wanted to collect them onto a pot. My dad had a lot of problems. I now realise it must have been very difficult for him and leaving was his way of coping.'
'When I think about him, I remember the good times we spent together. We were extremely lucky to have my mum holding it all together. I didn't miss my father when he left, it is only now I regret not knowing him better.'
Explaining the piece 'The Green Man (Platter), Vicky wrote: 'My dad's body was discovered in Ballindinas, Barntown Woods two months after he died. Next to his curled up body was a new pair of boots and a carton of milk displaying a date in mid-November. I think of him as a green man, going back to the earth. This wood is where he wanted to be and it seems fitting that this is where he lay down to die. His eye is open because I don't want to think that this was the end of his life. He was 46 years old when he died'.
Writing about the piece 'Wexford People', she said: 'Quotes taken from a newspaper article written about my dad after his body was discovered. There is also a quote from my sister Khali who played a large part in this project. It wouldn't have been possible if she had not decided to find out what had happened to our dad back in 2004. With the help of my mum, she documented it all in the Dead Dad Book which was the inspiration for this project'.
A platter called 'Swimming in Coolree Reservoir' 'is based on the time that my dad had left us and not told us where he had gone. He was living a hermit's life, made a camp and swam regularly in Coolree Reservoir. I believe that despite having left us behind, my dad was trying to live a 'good' life and control his drinking. I think he was happy there for the last few years of his life. A neighbour had offered him a room in their house. he did take this offer up but after a few months he moved back to the camp on the mountain, he was happy there living a solitary life'.