Lons Place: Drive to Save Birkenhead Palace of Outsider Art | Art

In the front room of the late Ron Gittins’ apartment, Mysterious Pompeii Villa And vibes. The hall may be an Egyptian tomb. Bathroom, aquarium fever dreams. The hand-crafted fireplace features a 3-meter-tall lion, a minotaur, and a Roman altar in the kitchen.

Gittin’s home decor will stop you wherever you go. The fact that no one knew it was there, he spent decades secretly creating it in his rented ground floor estate in the Merseyside town of Birkenhead The fact that it stops you a little more.

There will be fundraising events in the coming weeks to help you save “Ron’s Place” lest it be lost forever.

Ron Gittins renovated his Merseyside home with murals inspired by ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman art. Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

One of the people involved Jarvis Cockerconsiders Gittins an outsider artist who has created something worthy of preservation.

“We can all empathize with people who clean up their homes. Everyone decorates their homes in some way,” Cocker said. “Ron went one step further.”

Cocker said the lion’s head fireplace, which Gitins painstakingly molded using wet concrete, was “genuinely incredible.”

A room in Gittin’s house featuring a lion’s head fireplace. Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian
A sea-themed room. Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

“I’ve always been interested in the art of people who haven’t gone through the normal route. They’ve never been to art college or anything like that,” he added. “They have an idea and they do it. We all have creativity within us.”

A complex and eccentric character, Gittins passed away in 2019. He left a rented apartment piled high with bags, boxes, magazines, videos, and handwritten notes (pieces of code). There are papier-mâché figures and costumes that he made by hand, along with painted and sculpted works on the walls and ceiling.

One was the uniform of the Grenadier Guard, which he wore to march with papier-mâché muskets outside the nursing home where he was fighting on behalf of his mother.

“People would find him funny, provocative, a bloody nuisance, but his madness also had a way,” said filmmaker Martin Wallace. Feature-length documentary about Gittins Member of Ron’s Place Advisory Board.

As an example, he said when Gitins shuffled in an orange jumpsuit with his legs crossed in the center of Birkenhead, protesting his detention at Guantanamo.

“It was a very private and deep protest,” Wallace said. “He engaged with people and told them if he was talking, but he wasn’t reaching out his hand to make as much noise as possible.”

Gittins lived frugally on disability benefits. He was constantly taking courses: French, German, Bookkeeping, Industrial Sewing.

Gittins had mental health issues and at one point was diagnosed with what today is called bipolar disorder.

A costume made and worn by Gittins. Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

But his story is more nuanced than that. Wallace said: they look at me like this Of course he didn’t.

No one really knew what Gitins was doing in his flat, but he was well known locally and would occasionally commission art pieces.

Ron Gittin passed away in 2019. The Board of Trustees is currently campaigning to protect his home. Photo: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

“Ron was a friendly fishmonger in Birkenhead Market and commissioned a painting of him and his brother at the expense of a red mullet as Roman invaders invaded England in the 4th century.” Wallace said.

Not on display. “I hate the fishmonger’s wife. She’s wrapped in bubble wrap in the garage.”

There must be quite a few people who sympathize with the fishmonger’s wife. They’ll see what Gittins has done and think it’s bad art and has little merit – and that’s fine, his supporters say.

According to Wallace, the purpose is not just to preserve Gittins’ work for preservation. The hope is that it might inspire others.

“What’s remarkable is that everyone who comes here reacts like a child. There’s something fascinating, exciting and uplifting about it… maybe even a little sad about it.” I have.”

The plan is for Lons Place to become a community resource, inspiring and inspiring creativity. Proponents see it as part of the wider cultural renaissance of the town of Wirral.

Upcoming fundraising activities Imagine art and music festival, at Birkenhead on 25 September.When Jarvis Cocker in conversation at the Liverpool Playhouse on September 30th.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2022/sep/20/rons-place-drive-to-save-birkenhead-palace-of-outsider-art Lons Place: Drive to Save Birkenhead Palace of Outsider Art | Art

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