A book of imagery and poetry by Tom de Freston and Andrea Porter, published by Gatehouse Press.

Click to view House of the Deaf Man.

“…thank you for sending me your book. It is a remarkable thing. Your poems and Tom de Freston’s images capture the spirit of Goya’s Black Paintings without aping them: in other words, they are entirely their own thing, yet inspire in the reader/viewer the same sense of disquiet and dread and awe -because there is a beauty too. It’s like you’ve both breathed in his darkness and made it your own” Sir Anthony Sher

Artist Tom de Freston and poet Andrea Porter explore the dark images Goya created on the walls of his house Quinta del Sordo (The House of the Deaf Man) in the last few years of his life. Using these paintings as a touchstone both artist and poet create a world in which Goya’s ‘Black Paintings’ provide a vital and significant link between the present and the past.

The House of the Deaf Man becomes a space where a strange Master of Ceremonies guides you past walls that talk and a woman carries a severed head through a supermarket. In this house a mad band plays on as a man hangs a spoon from his nose and all the king’s and bankers’ horses come tumbling down.


When you go to the supermarket
place my head in your wire basket
as you wander the aisles of meat.
Be careful my hair does not brush
the sign of two for the price of one.
Let check-out girls catch my eye.

Keep me close and always visible,
you never know when you will need
to raise me up as a bloody trophy,
to rouse shoppers from their torpor.
Never take lightly the authority given
when you show what victory means.

Guard me from thieves.
If I were stolen how could you prove
that a god and right and butchery are,
and always will be, on your side?
Insure me, but a policy of like for like
may cost far more than you can pay.

Post my decapitation up on YouTube,
followers want to see the neck bowed,
the thought severed from the deed.
Become the poster-girl for deliverance,
the strong woman’s role in pay-back,
the lesson about listening to a deity.

Artists never see the flicker in the eyes
as you hack and saw through bone.
‘Two blows’ was their hyped publicity.
Most portray the moment before,
the moment after; the moment itself
disappears up the magician’s sleeve.

Speak softly to me at three a.m.
Whisper sweet names you gave me.
Tell me other secrets; I know
about the knife you use to prise
my fingers from your heart,
the axe I take to your soul.

After the Black Painting ‘Judith and Holofernes’.