From The West Australian October 15th 2013 by Pip Christmass
(shortened version of the original article)
Love fires late calling.
When Perth* war veteran Stan Hopewell turned 80, he picked up brush and started painting for the first time in his life. But it wasn’t a late-life sea change or sudden desire to uncover his hidden inner artist that impelled this unassuming octogenarian to put paint to canvas. Hopewell’s beloved wife, Joyce, herself a painter had become seriously ill, battling breast cancer before being diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2000.
He became her primary carer. His way of dealing with what was happening to his wife was to begin to paint – rich, detailed, profoundly spiritual works created by a man with no formal training in art. Hopewell said “I feel I have misled you, you seem to think that I painted these pictures. I did not paint these pictures; a force greater than I takes over ‘my hand.’
His paintings were shown at the Wilson Art Gallery under the title God is Love (one of the central themes of most of these paintings is an unwavering love and implicit trust in God.) Hopewell’s paintings burst with colour ,full of profound engagement with his religion and intensively expressive of his love for his wife. While there is great emotional suffering behind these paintings what is most remarkable is that they come across as both positive and hopeful.
“These paintings are a love story says Ted Snell( his biographer). It’s a love story about Joyce and Stan obviously, but also a love of God, a love of living, of his family, of Australia. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a dark side. Some of his poetry which he was writing at the same time is quite anguished. But when it came to making images, he couldn’t help but celebrate the fact that Joyce was still alive and that there was some hope”
* Perth is capital city of Western Australia.