Father’s final words to graffiti artist son killed by train
Alberto Fresneda Carrasco's final to-do list reveal his interests in art, music and tattoos
29 June, 2018 — By Tom Foot
Alberto Fresneda Carraso on Hampstead Heath
HIS final ‘to-do’ list was simple but enthusiastic.
“Get full-range speakers,” wrote Alberto Fresneda Carrasco. “New skate shoes, practice tattooing, practice mixing.” To a mind full of creative pursuits, only the administrative task of applying for a student loan seemed to be a hold-up.
It was a list “Trip”, as the 19-year-old was known in graffiti circles, never finished. He died last week at Loughborough Junction station, near Brixton, alongside two friends.
They had been on the railway lines with spray cans. Walls across Camden Town, Kentish Town and Hampstead have been tagged with “RIP Trip” since the tragedy.
His father Carlos has shared some of Alberto’s artwork with the New Journal; his son was looking forward to taking up a place at the London College of Communication in the autumn.
He has written a ‘letter’ to his son in the aftermath of his death. “We tried to persuade you to give up graffiti. We told you in one-and-a-thousand ways: keep your creativity alive, but do not risk your life. We warned you how dangerous the city was,” he wrote.
The 19-year-old was a former student at William Ellis School
But, reflecting on Alberto’s life, Mr Fresneda, a journalist, realised he too had searched for a similar creative satisfaction. “These mysterious inner-thoughts I am feeling,” he said. “It is shock, emptiness, a cloud. But I can see now that these many lives Alberto was leading, I led some of them myself.”
He added: “I think the danger is part of the thrill. I think they were in a place where there was almost no escape. They might not have seen or heard the train coming.”
Around 30 people attended a vigil at the south London station on Thursday afternoon. They held hands in a silent circle and remembered Alberto, Harrison Scott-Hood and Jack Gilbert, who died alongside him that night. His friends, both aged 23, from Muswell Hill and Enfield, were known by the tags “Lover” and “K-Bag”.
A shrine to the three men who died at Loughborough Junction
“We knew about this solidarity they [graffiti artists] all have around them,” said Mr Fresneda. “They feel like they are part of a big family. We knew it would be difficult to get him away from that.” He brought along a copy of a drawing by Alberto of Snoopy.
He said his son was “obsessed” with drawing the Peanuts cartoon character and had a tattoo of him on his chest. “A lot of his Snoopy drawings had a chain and he was in a dog house, and sometimes I wondered if it meant he needed more freedom. He was a free spirit, you know. Nothing I could have said to him that night would have changed anything,” said Mr Fresneda.
Alberto – known as Alby to his friends – was born in New York. His father, from Madrid, worked for 17 years at the Spanish national newspaper paper El Mundo, employed as a foreign correspondent there.
Carlos Fresneda, blue top, at vigil at Loughborough Junction on Thursday
Alberto came to live in Langland Gardens, Hampstead, aged 12 when his father moved to a new beat reporting on this country.
Mr Fresneda said: “One of the first observations he had when we came to London was on Hampstead Heath. He told me: ‘I like London, but it is so rural compared to New York City.’ We used to play football on the Heath, in a special place. We had those kind of matches that seem to never end, and then finish 22-23. He was a left winger, he supported Sevilla and Everton – he liked the ‘difficult’ teams.”
He spent teenage years at William Ellis Secondary School and City and Islington College before taking an art foundation course at the Working Men’s College, in Mornington Crescent.
“It was a difficult transition,” said his father. “He had been used to working on projects at school in Greenwich Village. Here I think there was too much structure for him in the education system. But the WMC looked after him, and it worked well.”
On Monday, Mr Fresneda picked up his son’s end-of-year portfolio from the college in Crowndale Road. He had passed and was ready to start a degree course. Alberto had described his creative philosophy to tutors as being about “freedom”, inspired by a world “with no barriers” where art could “cultivate a counter culture”.
Samples of Alberto Fresneda Carrasco’s cartoon guides
Mr Fresneda said his son loved Ha-Joon Chang’s book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism, adding: “We talked about Corbyn. I’d say he would be close to Momentum. He was a leftie. But he was interested in economics. He had a vision for business – he could have been a progressive businessman.”
Twice a week he would go on a trawl of charity shops in West Hampstead and Finchley Road, bringing back bundles of clothes.
Mr Fresneda said: “He would make some alterations and sell them on eBay. He had a dream of creating his own brand, it was called High Future.”
A final to-do list found by Alberto Fresneda Carrasco’s parents
He recalled how his son would create little design manuals at home, with detailed explanations of how to draw cartoon characters – like Daffy Duck or the Pink Panther – and also his own inventions, including Super Squishy, a caped crusader worm “who could squeeze his way out of any situation”.
“Music too he loved,” said Mr Fresneda. “I tried him with a guitar but he wasn’t interested in that. Recently he was sampling with Ready or Not from The Fugees, dub stuff mainly. Also with Bob Marley.”
The reggae singer’s “Redemption Song” was played at his funeral at Golders Green Crematorium on Tuesday.
Mr Fresneda said: “It’s funny, you know, because in New York I saw The Fugees coming out of nowhere – and I met Lauryn Hill. I wrote the story of hip hop through her eyes. And as soon as I got to New York I wrote the story of the amazing graffiti artists there. “One of the last things I tried to do with Alberto was to put him in touch with Graffiti for Life. It’s an organisation that helps graffiti artists make a life from their art. I want to write about them next, I feel I have to.”
Alberto Fresneda Carrasco during a childhood holiday
Alberto is survived by a younger and older brother, Julio and Miguel. Their mother, Isabella Carrasco, is a leading vegetarian chef, now working in alternative therapies.
She spoke briefly at the vigil on Thursday about Alby’s “black sense of humour”, recalling how one of her last memories was joking about why he was watching TV series Love Island.
She told those present: “When I opened the paper, the headline about his accident and where he died, it was next to the story about Love Island. I was thinking he would appreciate that. It made me smile. Thank you all for coming.”
Alberto’s friends laid flowers and aerosol cans against a white wall by the station. One sprayed message said: “Everyone wants to make their mark on the world – you made so many.” His ashes are being taken to his family’s home in Madrid and will be buried in Carabanchel cemetery.