I have neglected to mention Ron's Place in my blog despite banging on about this amazing space for three years on social media and now the day before the auction to sell it off, I realise I've neglected to record this here. Last night, I assisted with a twilight tour of the building, including showing around two of my studio mates, and then handed over my key with great sadness and concern that this may have been the last time.
Ron Gittins lived in the neighbouring street, and was brother and uncle to friends of mine in the Williams family. On moving to Oxton, almost twenty years ago, I regularly saw an older man who pushed a pram, as I walked the same streets pushing children in a pushchair. He wore slightly eccentric scruffy clothing and often had one or two wigs on and a hat. He would always acknowledge my presence if I had a hat on or looked particularly smart.
From the outside of the Victorian/Edwardian Villa on Silverdale Road in Oxton where he resided for thirty years, he had created the most amazing painted concrete structures as well as accumulating lots of rubbish and rubble - reflecting an odd combination of great care and neglect. Sadly the totem poles were removed a few years ago.
After his death in November 2019, it was discovered that he had decorated his rented ground floor flat with vivid murals with jewel like colours, Egyptian hieroglyphics, a bathroom with vivid underwater scenes and a bedroom with portraits of historic figures painted directly on the walls. Obscured from the outside world, only a handful or two of people had been into the flat in his lifetime. In addition to the artwork, he was a hoarder - seeing the potential in "rubbish" as I do. He created a space for himself and he selected whom he allowed in. Sadly he would never have seen the artwork as we do, with incredible vistas from the hallway or from one room to another, due to the piles of stuff.
He was not always the easiest person to make time for, or to know, but what was discovered on his death is impressive and it is very alarming that this creativity could be eliminated. The problem from the start was that the flat was rented which made it difficult to secure funding and to approach funders.
The place has continue to be rented through support from the public for the last few years (throughout the pandemic lockdowns) with a view to trying to save the immersive environment and use it as a catalyst for discussions and workshops about creativity, mental health and isolation. Now there will be the possibility that it will be sold tomorrow and have a new owner who may, may not want to keep Ron's creations. The world has been watching as the small team (with varying members) has tried to secure a future for the space - contacting the media and people of influence. Headed by Jan and her partner Chris Teasdale (who collectively run The Caravan Gallery), and supported by film maker Martin Wallace, with Sanna King who has done sterling work creating interested amongst the creative community - visual, music & word and others in the early years. I have been involved on and off in a key holder/supportive role. There have been articles galore and visits from key people and suggestions, approaches and more and now there is lots of discussion - "have you tried so and so" and "can I get in to see it" as people realise that AUCTION is coming.
The building will be auctioned on 1st March(TOMORROW). We need a sympathetic buyer to partner with us