'The Magic Eye and its Dream Rivers' by Stephen Convey.
'One Sided Conversation' by Stephen Convey.
Whenever I look at my brother's pictures I am taken back to our childhood. Our environment the inner suburban world of Prahran, Richmond and South Melbourne; small houses, streets, factories and parks was, from our angle of vision, imbued with the marvellous and populated by strange and baffling people. We loved exploring this world on long spontaneous walks. We would stare wide-eyed at the 'Meanie' shrieking and gesticulating with a gnarled oak branch outside his tumbledown home. We had to step back into the lane as the 'crazy girl' chased her father down the street with an axe. Between two side streets there was a factory complex with oddly shaped yards littered with tangled metal and crates of various sizes. The juxtaposition of fire escapes, pipes, vats and rainbow-coloured slime in the gutters made it a fascinating but overwhelmingly sinister place.
Stephen was drawn to a small courtyard near the entrance which always had large patterns drawn with coloured chalk on the pavement.
Once at twilight in a blind alley we were horrified to hear screams tearing out of the barred windows of an empty factory. When we breathlessly told a cop in Chapel Street he grabbed us by the arms and said, 'There are two kinds in the world, the quick and the dead. Piss off.'
Empty houses, especially when reputed to be haunted, were magnets. They were psychic traps in which random aural and physical manifestations of previous occupation lingered. Stephen would stand in the middle of a room and momentarily close his eyes...
Sometimes at the end of these walks we would sit in the no man's land between the grimy factories and the Yarra River feeling the earth turning and listening to the hum of the wheels and wires. We had left the world of school and regimentation and our eyes had gorged on wonder. Later we moved to Glen Iris, a garden suburb with tree-lined streets built on the slopes above Gardiners' Creek. This became Stephen's special place and he formed a strong attachment to the rippling creek. It was as if he intuitively empathised with the original inhabitants whose stone tools lay buried in the grass.
Stephen never lost his sense of wonder and every time he picks up a pen to make a picture his quest continues.
Originally published in 'Outsider Art In Australia'. Ulli Beier, Philip Hammial [eds]. Aspect, 1989.