Urgent SOS for unique "outsider art" flat facing obliteration
Ron's Place is an exceptional fantasy world created by resident and "outsider artist", Ron Gittins, in his ground floor flat in a Victorian house in Birkenhead. Giant sculptures of a minotaur and a lion's head surround two fireplaces, the kitchen has a recreation of a Roman bread oven, the walls are covered with lively and highly detailed paintings. It is a magical and also poignant place reflecting Ron's use of art as an outlet for his mental health issues and as a means of self-expression. Ron had little formal training, hence "outsider art", and though he was clearly inspired by history and historical forms of art, his was an entirely original response to his situation and surroundings based on these influences.
Ron sadly died in 2019 at the age of 79, but his place has been kept alive by family and supporters who have somehow found the rent and other payments to preserve the flat as an inspiration to others. They have dreamed of being able to establish a cultural base and creative community asset to benefit those locally and beyond.
Now the owners of the house, which contains more flats in the floors above, have put the house up for auction on 1st March 2023 for a guide price of £325,000, though it might go for more. Click here to see the details. The Wirral Arts and Culture Community Land Trust (WACCLT) which had already been set up to take the campaign forward is seeking either donors to fund the purchase price on their behalf or a partner who would acquire the house and lease Ron's ground floor flat to them. The news that the house will soon be auctioned, makes their search to find a saviour - or saviours - extremely urgent.
To read more about the place and the plans for its survival, visit the website of the WACCLT here.
To help, you can donate to the Wirral Arts and Culture Community Land Trust here and you can spread the word to ensure that anyone in a position to help can come forward in time.
Ron's Place has a great deal of support and people willing to speak out for it. Celebrity supporter, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker, is a patron of the campaign and has spoken out in defence of this unique place.
Jarvis Cocker said:
“With environments like these, you get a complete work of art that somebody is living in and that they’ve established the rules. It’s like a personal universe”.
“Everybody decorates their house in some way, Ron has just gone that extra mile. That lion's head fireplace is unbelievable really. I have always been interested in the art of people who haven’t gone through the normal channels, they haven’t gone to art college and stuff like that. They have an idea and they follow it through. We all have creativity within us.”
Martin Wallace is an award-winning filmmaker and one of the volunteer group. He directed the Channel Four series, “Journeys Into the Outside with Jarvis Cocker”, in which he and Jarvis travelled the world looking at extraordinary places like Ron’s, built by otherwise ordinary people.
Martin Wallace said:
“Jarvis and I filmed at about thirty amazing sites across the globe, from Mexico to India. Places where people had felt compelled to create something very personal and idiosyncratic. Ron’s Place is up there with the best of them. I’d say it’s in the top five places of its kind in the world and certainly the best in the UK, so we can’t let this go; it would be so short-sighted.”
Jan Williams, Ron’s niece and founder of the campaign to save Ron’s Place said:
'' It would be criminal to lose such a unique and special place that enchants and inspires so many people. Ron's Place is a testament to the power of imagination and resourcefulness and proves you don’t need loads of money to be creative’’.