Mural to commemorate executed pen pal

Cunnington Street mosaic fulfils artist's promise to death row inmate

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A memorial to a death penalty victim will be unveiled as a striking addition to public art in W4 next Sunday June 18th.

The mosaic mural, in Cunnington Street, is the work of sculptor Carrie Reichardt and fulfils a promise to Luis Ramirez, who was executed in Texas last year for murder.

Carrie explained: “I was put in touch with Luis through a scheme that provides convicts facing the death penalty with pen pals. We corresponded for about six years and I was allowed to visit him for two days before his execution.

“I sent him photographs of the front of the house, which we’ve been working on for many years and, and he liked what he saw.

“It’s difficult to know what to say when you’re looking a condemned man straight in the eye, and all I could do was promise that I’d do something like this to preserve his memory. He always maintained his innocence, right to the end.”

Chiswick born and bred Carrie has a degree in sculpture from Leeds Metropolitan University and has made the mural to a design drawn by her partner Theyen Rich, a movie storyboard artist. It is full of imagery and texts, including Luis’s last words and lines from Bob Dylan and American comic Bill Hicks. It even includes Blinky, the three-eyed mutant fish from The Simpsons.

“It’s multi-layered,” the artist said. “Like any work of art you get more from it the closer you inspect it. But I hope it’s also striking for people just passing by.”

Luis’s girlfriend, Lisa, came to see the work in progress at Christmas and Carrie is expecting members of his family to be at the unveiling.

Passers-by, on their way to Chiswick Park station or the 94 bus terminal at Acton Green, are already familiar with the house front, in Fairlawn Grove, with its pagan symbolism and witty imagery.

“It adds to colour the area,” Carrie adds. “And most of the neighbours seem to be quite happy with it.”

Interview by Stuart Mitchell

June 13, 2006