The unique Birkenhead home of artist Ron Gittins, who died in 2019, has been saved after being put up for auction thanks to an anonymous donor.

Artwork in Ron’s Place. Image cc Alison Bailey Smith

The house was filled with unusual and highly-imaginative works of art.

Gittins lived in the downstairs flat of the building and transformed his home into a utopia of paintings and sculptures.

The flat was first put up for auction in February. Campaigners had been trying for public arts funding from different groups but could not do this without security of tenure on the flat.

Gittins took on the ground floor of the flat in Oxton, Birkenhead, in 1986 and the tenancy agreement gave him liberty to ‘decorate the interior of the property to his own taste and the external porch in classical style without the prior written consent of the Landlord.’

Ron generally refused entry to landlords and kept the artwork quiet, as not every property owner would be happy with a tenant building sculptures in their living room.

When the current owner decided to sell the property it was feared that the unique artworks could be lost forever.

As the auction date approached the anonymous donor delivered the £335,000 needed to save Ron’s Place as a loan, which then became a gift.

Another patron, who has been vocal about the house on social media, is Jarvis Cocker.

The musician donated the proceeds of an event at the Liverpool Playhouse to the Saving Ron’s Place campaign.

He told The Guardian he sees Ron Gittins as an outsider artist who created things that deserve to be preserved.

He said: “We can all relate to people who do their houses up. 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.”

Ron’s Place said: “A fluid group of volunteers (with stalwarts including Ron’s niece: artist Jan Williams, and partner Chris Teasdale, film maker Martin Wallace, and the help of local community artists Sanna King and Alison Bailey Smith) have been working tirelessly to save the flat, since he died in 2019.”

Before this, not many people had entered the building.

Williamson Art Gallery

Gittins was a frequent visitor of Williamson Art Gallery and Museum in Birkenhead.

Niall Hodson, curator at the gallery, told Merseynewslive: “It’s fantastic news that Ron’s Place has been saved for the community. It’s a great achievement by the people who have been working behind the scenes to save it.

“It’s such an unusual house, and such an unusual testament to an artist’s work.”

He also said: “They’ve done the really hard bit.

“There’s a hard task now of how it will actually be used, and how access to it can be arranged for the community, that’s a challenge, but nowhere near as big as the challenge of actually purchasing the property and saving it.”

Minotaur head in Ron’s Place. Image cc Alison Bailey Smith



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