Howson opens ‘incredible’ children’s garden
Herald Scotland, By Russell Leadbetter
The pioneering, multi-facility garden, which includes a beach, a wishing well, a wall of murals and a recording studio, was created by Hamilton Academical Community Trust and Blameless, a charity that aims to provide "happy memories" for children directly or indirectly affected by addiction or alcoholism. Howson is to create a mural for the wall.
Howson said he was on the mend and spoke of a "gradual relaunch" of himself as an artist.
In interviews in February this year, he had referred to his year of hell in 2012, when he was treated in various Glasgow hospitals for severe depression and other ailments. He was finally discharged before Christmas.
Yesterday he said: "I’ve had a pretty bad six years health-wise but I made a comeback at the beginning of the year, when I had sold-out exhibition at the Maclaurin Art Gallery in Ayr.
"I got myself better at the beginning of the year and then I got really ill again.
"I couldn’t understand what was happening, or why. They did an exploratory operation and I finally found a surgeon who discovered what was wrong with me: it was a physical ailment, not a mental ailment, but it has neurological consequences.
"So we got that sorted out, and I’m on the mend. I’m on the mend now. This is a kind of gradual relaunch or reinvention of myself. I’ve been through the wars and I’ve been battered about. But this project with the children means a lot to me.
"I’m in the same boat. These kids have got alcoholic or drug-addict parents: I’m an alcoholic and drug-addict parent."
He described the garden as incredible, adding: it’s an ongoing thing, it’s developing all the time. It’s a living energy and the people that work here are all incredible".
"A lot of people have put in a lot of effort into it for nothing in return," he said. "This is something for the children, and the parents will benefit as well. The hope is that we can help the children. I’ve seen the bodies of children in Bosnia: it has always affected me."
The mural he will paint will be on the theme of hope. Howson smiled as he said that. Colin McGowan, a key figure at Hamilton, and a Blameless trustee, had forbidden him from doing "anything nightmarish to frighten the kids". He added: "So it’s going to be a happy one. How can I do a happy painting? I will try.