The man behind Tom’s Garden, the colorful corner of Sotiros and Ipidou Streets in Plaka, was quoted in an article “I’m a bit of a philosopher. I tell people to live for the day and not to worry about tomorrow … Good comedians hide their sadness with laughter.”
Tom was once a political refugee of Northern Ireland. He’s told the sad story of how his entire family was killed by terrorists to a countless number of people, but explains that he’s found Jesus and even if it wasn’t it wasn’t easy, he’s also found forgiveness in his heart.
Now he lives in Plaka, on land owned and offered to him by the Greek Orthodox Church. The shells of buildings serve as his castle and his canvas where he expresses humorous, but pointed criticism of society and politics using paint and found objects. He’s beloved and supported by the neighborhood locals who always offer a cheery salutations to him when passing by.
I found him sitting in the sun with his dog, Sophia, enjoying an afternoon beer. We spoke of modern times and the struggles of the people with the economic crisis. He told me things were getting tougher, but not to be afraid. He spoke about his faith and of being a born-again Christian, saying it didn’t stop him from enjoying the simple things like his pipe and a little wine.
“I’m not a judgemental Christian. I’m just Tom.”