Len Hend born 1943
Jack Ricketts Moved from London in about 1880. He was a well respected landscape artist, he worked on the huge backdrops for the live theatres in Sydney and Melbourne and painted many watercolor sketches.
Jack lived at 11 Alma Rd Maroubra, he and his wife adopted my mum.
Jack died the year I was born. His art work, books and tools remained in the house, I believe my fascination and attachment to them, to be seed of the artist within me.
I still hold many of Jack’s goods and chattels.We moved to Parramatta when I was 5 and all Jack’s possessions came with us.
All my life I have been chronic asthmatic, which causes me to be somewhat different than others.
I was never able take part in active sports and forced to find employment and entertainment away from the perfume and smoke, so I spent much time drawing and painting.
At 15 I was found to be uncontrollable and placed from a boys shelter (Albion St) into the care of my uncle Harold and aunty Steller, we were fencing contractors and we worked hard.
On my 17th birthday I bought a brand new Triumph Herald Coupe.
At 19 I bought 5 acres and started building a race horse training complex. (not interested in horses just liked building stables)
At 24 I took a job as a tracer in a drawing office (McNamee Industries Hope St Ermington), entered the Mechanical Engineering Certificate Course at Grandville Tech. and within 18 months was designing and drawing hydraulic components for power stations.
I worked quickly in ink without pre-drawing the designs in pencil.
The stuffy office inflamed my illness and I found my weekend job as a fencing contractor more attractive, health wise.
For a few years I worked sub-contract in the house renovation industry.
After a bout of ill health I took a job as a cleaner in Penrith Plaza Shopping Centre.
The manager asked how I could be a cleaner with asthma, I told him when I clean there is no dust, he hired me.
It was there that I met Noel Frith. Noel was painting little landscapes and selling them like hot cakes.
I asked him how he remembered where everything went, “I make it up as I go and everything is from light to dark.” he said.
I went home and started painting.
A week later I entered 3 paintings in the Nepean Art Society exhibition, they sold and I received commissions for 11 similar paintings.
Before long I found I was making more money at painting landscapes than cleaning, so I opened a gallery and sold art supplies. (Leonard Gallery, High St Penrith)
From the gallery I started teaching and holding exhibitions in shopping centers.
Video cameras and players had just arrived in Australia.
I made my first 2 hour 6 lesson video (Speed Painting with Len Hend)
I bought an E-Type Jaguar, want for a drive to Mullumbimby and decided to ‘drop out’.
I think I always was a drop-out or fringe dweller but I wanted to be free.
The E-Type had to go, I bought a converted school bus and hit the road for the 20 years.
After selling my horse training complex at Londonderry NSW, I bought a 5 acre property at Mullumbimby.
That has been my base now for over 30 years.
The bus is too old for today’s roads and now sits on the property as part of the family. Just looking at it brings back the memories of rolling endlessly around Australia, stopping for a month here and there to paint and exhibit my videos at local markets and shopping centers. I was always well received as news travels fast in the outback and my scruffy appearance and bare feet seemed to throw an uninhibited light on my act.
Often when I started work in a new shopping centre, my first few paintings would be of standard quality but after a few solid days on the brush I was capable of reproducing any photograph or any landscape image in oil on canvas at a remarkable speed. It does take some training to paint at ones best.
And many more that I can not remember.
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