As part of Sutton House Queered, I approached one of our Recycled Teenagers to ask if he would like to exhibit some of his artwork. The Recycled Teenagers are an over 55s community group who visit Sutton House each Friday for a variety of workshops, activities and trips. Victor is a prolific and talented artist, and had previously been one of the participants of my 126 exhibition. Victor’s exhibition took place in the gallery from February 2017 and his work told a story about his heritage, his coming out, his close bond with his daughter, and his passion for ballet. During the exhibition, Victor and his daughter ran an art workshop for the other Recycled Teenagers. Below are his own words that accompanied the exhibition.
I came out of communist Hungary in 1957 after the Uprising. I finished my schooling here, and was a teacher for a decade. I became interested in Art and Dance at school. I got married, but deep down I knew that I was gay. My son and my daughter are accepting, so is my daughter’s boyfriend. I retired from office work for the railways and now I lead the University of the Third Age Drama, Dance and Creative Writing groups.
I left the Roman Catholic Church and I am now an active Anglican, happy with the freer more accepting faith. I am proud of my grandfather, Francis Farago, who was Jewish. He died in Auschwitz, he was shot into a mass grave. My step grandmother told us what happened, having survived as a young woman.
In teacher training art became my passion, my life blood. When sketching and painting, I like fast flowing lines.
In the 70s and 80s I sketched Rambert Ballet and London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet) classes and rehearsals. I sketched Torvill and Dean at their skating training as well as with the Hungarian State Ballet.
When working for the railway I did painting with elderly people in homes and hospitals in my free time. One of my painters became my care patient. I became full time carer to a disabled man. This meant leaving home and feeling freer to come out as gay. This freed up my art too.
I first came to the Recycled Teenagers around 2000, and I have enjoyed the activities ever since. Having sketched ballet for several decades, once retired I started dancing too, joining Fergus Early’s ‘Green Candle’ dance group, we perform at Sutton House occasionally and with my University of the Third Age Drama Group we perform here once or twice a year as well.
I also love sketching here. Jan, a long-time member of the Sutton House community, is encouraged by my sketching a joins me. We regularly sketch in Sutton House following the Recycled Teenagers sessions. The historic surroundings are inspiring. It is good to come here and be immersed in the place and in my art.
I lead and taught my daughter Nicola in her art studies, helping her to get A*s in her GCSE and A-Levels. When we went to a TomokoTakahashi exhibition she was boweld over by her sculpted collages made from rubbish and other objects. It inspired her own Scrap Art. Her work has inspired me and her boyfriend Paul to follow her lead.
Our favourite place to paint together is in Pitsea. We take over a bird watching cabin at Wat Tyler Park and paint, while looking over the reed beds. I like to include the reeds in my painting, it reminds me of reed beds I loved in Hungary.