Monday, 3 December 2007

Composition in Three Parts ('The Mystic Triptych')

Some great works are recognised the moment they are seen but others often have to wait for their time to arrive. Fleydon has no doubt that Composition in Three Parts : The Mystic Triptych will prove to be not only his magnum opus but also his chef d’oeuver to boot.

“For the time being I am content that it lay there, open to the gaze. It is not necessary that people should leap about excitedly, throwing themselves about in a frenzy and exclaiming my genius to the heavens. In this case that would be entirely the wrong reaction. What I see in the eyes of the masses is a questioning, an understanding that something is going on here far beyond their ken. But they will grope their way toward enlightenment and they will find the journey worthwhile, of that I am sure. Except possibly the Brazilian gentleman who questioned both my sanity and the direction in which my art is leading me - a reaction which I fear shows a more philistine attitude than that I have come to expect from the Tempest End. But no more of that…I have a question of you. Please, would you care to tell me what you see in these pictures?”

Fleydon leaned back in his bath chair, rested his chin on his folded hands and fixed me with a gentle but querulous look. Caught unaware I could only make some ineffectual remarks about ‘Knights in armour’, some fairly inflammatory titles and then, in a stroke of inspiration, I recalled and remarked on his boyhood fascination with tales of Agincourt and other Mediaeval battle mentioned in our first ever interview. I was immediately rewarded by his craggy countenance softening into a smile.

“Well done, you are making a start. But only a start – forget the rest of your nonsense and concentrate on the mystical power of the mediaeval tale. The first flowering of the narrative. Often based on Latin, or ‘roman’ texts what you are seeing is a true ‘romance’ writ large!!”

Fleydon staggered to his feet and threw his arms open wide as though to embrace his work before the sudden exertion took its toll and he slumped back into his chair

“For many acolytes AFC Wimbledon is so much more than a team - it is a ‘romance’ in the deepest sense - and what is more, it is a ‘pure’ relationship, unsullied by the degradations of the physical – well, with some unfortunate exceptions anyway. And what better analogy for such feelings than that of the chivalric romance with overtones of religious fundamentalism and a dash of righteous fervour? We are all Crusaders here, you know!”

Fleydon laughed a joyous peal of laughter that sounded not unlike a small church announcing deliverance from the plague. He then paused to wipe a fleck of spittle from the corner of his mouth before continuing

“Being inspired by the 'Roman-ces' it was entirely appropriate that they should be painted on old Roman blinds from my front room,, a fortuitous but significant coincidence. There may be questions from some from the 'big is beautiful' school as to their size but what I hope will be apparent is that these are in fact miniature flags, designed as processional banners or khorugvs rather than for flagpoles. Until summoned for their final climactic act they will rest in the Tempest End, the club’s undeniable iconostasis. Come that fateful moment they will be taken down to be carried at the head of a victory procession that will stretch along the road as far as the eye can see. The hushed masses of Wimbledon will finally celebrate Ascension Day, and leave the Rymans (rhymes with 'Romance'?) beneath us. “Next year, Blue Square!” as the traditional toast goes!”

So why three banners? Why spend so much time these, admittedly exquisite, miniatures when a single bigger banner would have sufficed.

“It is a fair question at first glance, but you overlook the power of three – “Three..” as the recent pop hit points out, “…is a magic number”. We can never underestimate the significance of the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Faith Hope and Charity; Groucho, Chico and Harpo; the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe all groups of that hallowed number. And most pertinent of all given our play-off potential, THIRD TIME LUCKY! It also allows the showing of three aspects of our crusade, our ‘three-pronged attack’, our ‘three coins in the fountain’ or even, our ‘three faces of Eve’. Three, I need not also remind the purist, is when all Saturday games should commence. One I’m afraid, just wouldn’t cut the mustard.”

Concluding his introduction to the context in which the works were created, Fleydon then grasped my elbow and pointed out some of the facets unique to each of the works

Left Panel: Scourge of the Unworthy

“Pure in radiant spirit, clean of attire and looking for something nice to do, here the Spirit of Wimbledon is looking to lead by example. The flowers are symbolic of Dorothea of Caesarea, a martyr who was forced by the authorities to make a foul choice. She chose her own route and was martyred for her steadfastness. I salute and recognise her as a spiritual Don.’

Centre Panel: Smiters of the Degenerate

Dismounted and attired in the away strip, the Spirit of Wimbledon ‘gets down and dirty’ with the Beast of Revelations, a false prophet from whose cavernous mouth spews forth lies, falsehoods and cant. Only the Spirit of Wimbledon can finally seal its fate. Some purport to see the crest of MK Dons concealed in the helm above the painting but that would be a coincidence too frightening to contemplate and surely worthy of further research.

Right Panel: Purgers of the Unclean

"Armed and dangerous with the banner of the True Faith fluttering above his cross-eyed warhorse Elegius and accompanied by his two war dogs, Nipper and Smudge, the Spirit of Wimbledon is ready for battle. Gentle no more but ferocious in his El Cid-like awesomeness, enemies tremble at his name and the ferocity of his visage - and that's where a spot or two of 'Purging ' takes place as bowels loosen at the merest mention of his name. Actually, technically, I found 'ferocious visages' a bit tricky so I decided to paint him in a helmet instead. Not quite as scary, but I think I pulled it off."

Fleydon then addressed me for a final time

'What I have discussed with you with regard to these paintings is all true and yet...and yet...and is only part of the truth. There is so much more to them than just that, but I'm not going to do all the work for you. Can I suggest though that you think of the links with Great Feast where the clans were drawn in under the protective walls of the Great Hall, decorated with its tales of gods and heroes. or instead think of the great Tourneys held in the King's Tilt Yard - have you never considered the thread that connects the thrill and spectacle of the joust to the colour-filled flutterings of a Woking cup final crowd? Or then the obvious links to Illuminated Manuscripts and the scholarly and monastic traditions they evoke. And what of Monty Python movies and the "Knights that go Ni!", peasants in the mud and 'brave Sir Robin'? All these resonate deeply do they not, throwing up a mass of links and suggestions, thoughts and associations? The depth of this work, the layers of meaning and of interpretation that are possible...well it astounds even me. That is why I am content that, with time, these works will take their place as the brightest stars in my artistic firmament. Meanwhile, until that day, I am more than happy to continue to wear my Scourge of the Unworthy t-shirt underneath my Don's top. After all, a little bit of hair-shirt suffering is good for the soul, however pure it might be.'

Composition in Three Parts : The Mystic Triptych
are currently housed in lead lined caskets underneath the Tempest End, They are ceremonially draped over a number of virgins before being hoisted five minute before kick off as part an 'Incense and Chanting ' ceremony.

Friday, 12 October 2007

22. Composition in Black and White (Dude)

The public's icy reception of 'The Devil is a Don' seemed to affect Fleydon's normally placid demeanour and he reacted by dashing off a series of aggressive sketches that displayed an ire and fury totally absent from his previous work (These were recently collected and published by the Arts Council of Great Britain under the title 'White Hot and Wild - Fleydon and the Art of Rejection') . Fascinating as an insight to the mind of genius as these undoubtedly are, no flag was subsequently forthcoming.

"Just as well really as I would have regretted it. Maybe not straight away but certainly when the writs started landing on the doormat. In fact I was a little concerned about the book publication, even with the expletives deleted. If it shows anything it charts a mind in turmoil so maybe I could claim temporary insanity as a defence!" His lank blond hair shimmered as he threw back his head and howled "Ooooowwww! Mad like a Wolf, that's what art does to you - it takes your soul!!!"

Producing the sketches seemed to provide Fleydon with a cathartic retreat and he was eventually able to divert his energies into more constructive projects.

"I did a lot of channelling, focussing and re-structuring of my energy. Instead of being a mass of negative vibes I became a bundle of positive ones - hyper-positive in fact - and the object of my passion? Not the supporters, players or administrators, all mere humans who I felt had failed me - no, I went straight to the godhead, the fountain, the essence. I sought to glorify the very concept of AFC Wimbledon itself. That divine creative spark from which everything else emerged. I became a man possessed, a modern prophet with an ancient message, a disciple and a proselytizer. For a while I became your worst nightmare, the angry man in a suit determined to show you the route to salvation, whether you wanted it or not. In effect I was shouting at the world and I didn't care whether the world heard me or not."

As a work of art, "Dude!' is characterised by strong black and white graphic style with an overwhelming typographical content. Unlike most of Fleydon's work which by its nature seeks simplicity and clarity in its message, 'Dude!' seems deliberately designed to confound the viewer.

"Yes, well spotted - as you can see I am not exhorting the crowd or even encouraging them. No, au contraire, I am engaged in a hector or a rant. To be honest I didn't care whether whether the crowds could read it or not. I just wanted my say!!"

And what of the title 'Dude', was there any significance in the expression?

"Childish maybe but it was a petulant exclamation - insert 'So ner, ya boo sucks..!' and it would convey essentially the same emotion. But at least I got it all off my chest and I feel all the better for it. It maybe with 'Dude!' I finally said farewell to my youth"

Composition in Black and White (Dude!) was purchased by representatives of the Junior Dons for use as a marching flag on their annual 'Dons Day' Parade. They were especially drawn to its hip-hop sensibility, its irreverent youthful attitude and its comic book graphic styling. As one spotty oik remarked "Dude is cool!"

Thursday, 11 October 2007

21. Composition in Red, White and Blue ("The Devil is a Don")

For the first time in his long and illustrious career, Fleydon was soon forced to face public indifference and even embarrassment at one of his creations. In producing a work so totally out of step with the zeitgeist of the club Fleydon had placed his reputation on the line and found it wanting. What had gone so badly wrong?

"It wasn't my fault...'The Devil is a Don' just had the misfortune to be premièred at a difficult time. It was like a drunk at a funeral. Wrong time, wrong place, wrong kind of spirits - but don't worry, it's time will come, I'm certain of it. Although I wish I hadn't listened to the crowd in the first place. Fickle bastards..."

Fleydon's rueful confession confirms rumours that for the first time in his career he allowed the common populace to inform his art. Keen to appeal to as wide a demographic as possible, Fleydon took to lurking on the internet reading a range of guestbooks and forums.

"I hadn't bothered before but I was introduced to one by a friend and was immediately hooked. There was one in particular inhabited by a range of quixotically-named creatures with fabulous 'tags' who seemed convinced that the Tempest End had to be 'Hell' for opposing teams and not the pleasant gentleman's enclave that greeted all in the spirit of Corinthian friendship and that we had all grown to love. Apparently there were to be flares, bunting and masses of chanting. The whole spectacle would be designed to intimidate and upset. They seemed so genuine that I was swept away by it all. My mind was full of images and ideas - red flares and smoke, an unearthly moaning and low chant from the John Smith Stand, and then what could be more intimidating than to see the Devil himself rise from behind the goal (a veritable mouth of Hades itself!) to the beat of a single drum. The image stayed with me and I worked throughout the close season preparing a work full of threat and intimidation. If Dante could only make nine levels of hell then we at AFC Wimbledon would go one better. We would have the tenth level ALL TO OURSELVES! Ha! What an image! The team would come out to 'Ride of the Valkyrie' and the opposition would crumble with shock and awe..."

Sadly Fleydon was caught wrong-footed by the reality and he found himself unveiling his flag in a silent, mournful and depressed Tempest Stand. The promised passion was absent, there were no flares, no chants and the only individuals in hell were the supporters themselves.

"No-one said a word. They just shook their heads and turned away. I was crushed. Even the few critics who commented on the piece couldn't get the details correct (although to be fair they corrected them pretty sharpish after my solicitors went to visit). It was like a dream where you find yourself on stage naked and where everyone looks at you without saying a word. But their disapproval washes over you anyway."

When I pointed out that Fleydon seemed perfectly happy to appear on stage naked at the first opportunity he agreed but pointed out the difference was that he was generally drunk in real life, but always sober in his dreams "even when I'm actually drunk, which is odd."

"Personally I like this work and am determined to see that it is appreciated in a fitting manner. However I fear that this generation of supporters are not worthy."

Fleydon's extreme emotional swings led him not only to remove 'The Devil is a Don' from public viewing, but to almost attack the supporters with his next shocking work...

The Devil is a Don is no longer on view and has been placed in storage 'until such times as we start winning big again and swagger is back in fashion'.

20. Composition of White on Blue (‘Fun Day’)

“Atlantis, the Gardens of Heligoland, Peter Pan’s boys, the Great Library at Alexandria and most importantly loads of art from really good artists. What do they have in common? They were all lost, that’s what, and sad to say that’s the situation here. A lost masterpiece that can only be glimpsed in a single, grainy shot. It really is a tragedy of the greatest magnitude, but then it is only to be expected of artists of my standing. The works of genius are always marked by their fragility and this was certainly the case with ‘Fun Day’.”

Fleydon struck an odd, heroic pose before the full-scale photographic reproduction of ‘Fun Day’, only relaxing it when our photographer had signalled that they had the required shot. His relationship to the lost work is evidently a complex one. The work was originally commissioned as part of the reconstruction of the club following the ravages of the ‘Points War’, and had the dual role as both advertisement and artwork in it’s own right. The creative process was a difficult one for Fleydon.

“I was bound, constricted by content and lettering – too much darn lettering for my liking - and I was under constant pressure of unaccustomed deadlines. I sweated blood over that work but finally felt that I had nailed it. It was balanced, harmonious and feng-shui-ed to within an inch of its life. In fact the photograph was taken during a Purification and Harmony ceremony near the pond in my back garden that had been sanctified for the occasion.”

But despite all these elaborate preparations, there was a sense of impending doom in the air. Fleydon ran a set of stubby fingers through the dark curls on the top of his head before continuing with the story.

“I was stressed, but it was done and completed on time. I sent copies of the photographs ahead as a courtesy gesture and was astounded to receive a reply the following day. “Love the flag” it read “ but the 6th of May is a Sunday, not a Saturday. Could you re-do it please?” My world just collapsed. It was like watching that Chipstead goal all over again as the be-hooped buffoon strutted and preened on the Kingsmeadow stage, but probably a bit worse. Sunday is much shorter than Saturday and the compositional harmony was gone just like that. The magic had gone. I re-painted it and no-one knew or could tell but myself, but that knowledge was like a canker. It was not good for me or my art…”

The flag flew at a single game before being hoisted proudly above the triumphal arch of Kingsmeadow to announce the festivities. At the conclusion of the event it was still there, proudly flying despite wind, hail and storm but during that night the flag disappeared without trace. There had been high winds and speculation mounted as to whether it might have broken free of it’s moorings, and indeed there were several reports of sightings on that moonlit night, but none that could ever be verified.

“Every great artist looses a work. I have lost a great work. I am therefore a great artist. I do not want it back, and never wish to see it again. It was an ultimately flawed and damaged work that I prefer to remember in its prime and which has served me well more in its absence than its presence. Let it rest in peace and let us consider more exciting works. My legal team will answer any suggestions to the contrary or hints or innuendoes as to the method of its removal. I think we understand each other?”

20. Composition of White on Blue (‘Fun Day’) disappeared in mysterious circumstances soon after its only official display. Its current whereabouts are unknown and it is listed on the ‘Stolen Masters’ database.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

19. Composition of Blue on Blue (‘Thumbs up’)

The conclusion of the 'Points War' that saw the minnows of AFC Wimbledon take on and turn the tables on both the Ryman League and the FA was both shocking and unexpected. Whatever the internal machinations and political posturing adopted by the main Axis powers, a bruised but battered Wimbledon CEO was able to stand on the steps of the FA waving that small piece of paper and to declare ‘Peace in Our Time!’. As no small part of the struggle himself (who could forget his naked and consciousness-raising ‘happenings’ at league grounds around the country for example) Fleydon sought artistic closure.

“We had won the war and we now had to win the peace. It was up to the Dons to help reconstruct the shattered remains of the Ryman League in our own image and with our own values. This was the task ahead, but it was also vitally important to allow ourselves time to celebrate, to acknowledge the successful outcome to a great adventure and to recognise those that had fallen.

With the eyes of the world upon us my task, as I saw it, was to walk a tightrope. On one side was the Pit of Triumphalism, a nasty place reserved for the sort of people that gesture to the crowds at Surrey Senior Cup Finals, or teams that see us off after play-off victories or just Hampton & Richmond (no other reason required in their case). To the other side I had the Chasm of Indifference which is empty at the moment but is obviously not somewhere I’d like to fall into. My ‘monument’ had to walk that tightrope and with this very much in mind I created ‘Thumbs Up!’.”

Not since the original version of ‘Tassels’ had a Fleydon flag lacked text - an deliberate omission that nevertheless gave it an uneasy ‘incomplete’ look.

“The symbolic ‘silence’ is an indication of respect, restraint and self-control. No-one likes a show off and to rub the noses of our fallen foes in our triumph would not be the actions of gentlemen. As I hope is all too clear, kicking bewildered and confused blazers whilst they lie slumped and incoherent at your feet, is not the Wimbledon way. We prefer to help them up, adjust their ties, brush them down and shake their hands. It’s partly what makes us so popular and well-respected amongst the rest of the non-league fraternity and we wouldn’t want to loose that respect.

Triumphalist? Well if the common thumbs up of a job-well done passed as silent acknowledgment amongst friends and colleagues is triumphalist .....err...well…yes I suppose it is, but actually I don’t think it is really. I think I got it spot on, as usual. As you can see in the illustration, the crowd seem to appreciate it too and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters”

Composition of Blue on Blue (‘Thumbs up!’) has been declared a National Monument and a Grade 2 Listed Flag. It is unfurled at the Tempest End on the Saturday Home match closest to the day of victory (Turvey Saturday).

Monday, 8 October 2007

18. Composition in Black and Brown (A Don’s Man)

Bemusement’ best sums up the reaction of the Tempest End on the unveiling of this particular work. It was possible to appreciate the delicate sepia work and to recognise and respond to the evocation of a time, not so long ago, when rattles were commonplace and when the thought of wearing of replica shirts and their associated gaudy advertising was laughable. But still the nagging thought occurred to most viewers – ‘What’s it all about? What are we looking at? Is it really suitable for a modern stadium? Is this really a typical Dons Man?

“A Dons Man? Actually he is the Dons man.” Fleydon recalled. “This flag is the result of an intense course of self-knowledge inner-therapy that I undertook at the Kingston Green Fair last year. The faintly aromatic woman who led me back into the depths of my sub conscious was able to elicit from me the evocation of my own spirit Guide, who I determined was called ‘Uncle Norman’. Under hypnosis I was able to produce this image. Apparently I laughed as I painted and when asked why informed my therapist that I had put joke tobacco in Uncle Norman’s pipe. We were just on our way to watch Wimbledon when he lit his bowl of finest shag. The resulting jet of flame singed his eyebrows but luckily Uncle Norman saw the funny side, ruffled my hair and off we went. The therapist was enchanted by the story and remarked that I was the most balanced and psychologically healthy person she had ever met. Truly I had won first prize in the lottery of life.”

Ever the pragmatist Fleydon declined to leave the result of his psychological musing behind. The title suggested itself and the addition of the crest legitimised it as a valid artwork in his own eyes, although producing an image far removed from his normal canon of work.

“It must be here in this exhibition though” remarked Fleydon “The sub-conscious is a powerful tool for an artist and beside, as the old song goes (and here he burst into a loud and raucous voice) “Uncle Norman is my mate, is my mate, is my mate…Uncle Norman is my mate, he hates Palace!!”

Fleydon gleefully chuckled, shook his head and led me on to the next flag.

Composition in Black and Brown (A Don’s Man) appears by kind permission of the Jungian Society of Great Britain

17 Composition in Mustard and Black (‘Better Class’)

One of Fleydon’s smaller works ‘Better Class’, nevertheless manages the difficult task of combining dynamism with precision and then rounding it all off with a dash of savoir faire. In his own eyes it is one of the most perfectly executed of all his works.

“Yes, I would say that ‘Better Class’ comes closest in its execution to the creative inner vision. It was conceived as a synthesis of two elements within the club – the executive and the legislative, or if you prefer the players and the management. You can’t have one without the other and this was a truism that was rammed home to me during times of crisis at the club, which to be honest, seem to come round on a regular basis. Some of our elected representatives have backgrounds in the city, hence the unusual garb, but all share an interest in the wondrous orb of passion that is a football, hence the ball (note the ball was later to appear in several other flags including ‘The Devil is a Don’ and is now a regular feature and recognised 'signature' in Fleydon's work).

There was speculation that the briefcase was symbolic of the case bought by the club to the FA with regard to the 13 point deduction and that the umbrella was intended to depict a symbolic poking of the Ryman League. Fleydon refuses to confirm or deny such speculation but does impishly point out that '..the tip of the umbrella is more pointed than strictly necessary.'

The logo has also been subject to some scrutiny. "I know that the word ‘class’ is an emotive one for my dear British friends, even though to those of us of Icelandic descent, it has little import and merely allows us to laugh at your pretensions. ‘Classy act’, ‘classy winger’, ‘classy performance’ all of these are evoked the word along with those terms of more negative connotation such as ‘class-warfare’, ‘class conflict’, and the temptation to pronounce it to sound like ‘arse’.

You will also note that ‘class’ is painted in red. Revolution? Danger? Very hot? Something marked as wrong by a teacher? Blood? All these are the shades of nuance to be found in the colour red and it is not my place to lead the observer, merely to make them aware of the choices…

Is there anything that I’m not happy with? Well as it happens there is something about the picture that annoys me whenever I see it. The fact is that the individual who modelled for the flag wore a pair of brown brogues when he should be in black patent leather. I've nothing against brogues, they certainly have their place in a gentleman's wardrobe,but that place is down at the hunting lodge of a weekend, not in the office where they just embarrass us all and show him up as some sort of jumped up grammar school parvenu. Otherwise I'm very happy with the result and look very fondly on this work!”

Composition in Mustard and Black (‘Better Class’) This work was purchased by AFC Wimbledon and hangs in the boardroom as 'a unique reminder of the unique nature of our unique club'.

Friday, 5 October 2007

16. Composition in Yellow White and Blue ('Ladies Night')

Fleydon's reputation as a 'ladies man', his famous 'tally-stick' of conquests, his voracious sexual appetite and his fondness of innuendo have all contributed to the legend that is Fleydon. But when standing before 'Ladies Night' a softer, almost tender side of his character emerges.

"This work should never really have happened. It never would have happened if it hadn't have been for a fleeting glance, a half-smile, a sight pout and a faint whiff of Essence de Jade Goody. I was a lost soul, my mind no longer my own, so when this vision sasheyed toward me, fluttered her lashes and asked if I would create a work for the Wombelles, well, instead of chasing her off with a golf-stick or bamboo garden cane I melted. There was no way I could turn her down. Who knew where it might end?"

For Fleydon it truly was a labour of love "of lust really, if you want to be accurate. But then you can't have one without the other can you?" Fleydon is reputed to have locked himself away for the duration of the painting, only emerging with the finished offering. "Yes, it really is an offering, like a Bower Bird I hoped to spread my wares at her feet and impress her with my plumage. Of course the work itself is awash with blatant sexual imagery and innuendo. 'Womb-elles' is obviously a reference to female fertility and it is no coincidence that the lady is perched on top of a 'cock'-tail with a plump 'cherry' beside her. I believe the cocktail itself might well have been a 'Screw-driver'..mmmmm....!!!"

By now Fleydon was salivating and it was disconcerting to note the thick, black, bristle-like hair on the back of his arms erect and gently waving like fronds of seaweed in an ebbing tide. As he hurriedly excused himself for a brief 'comfort break' we were left to ponder the identity of the mysterious dark-haired temptress that so obviously caught, and then broke, Fleydon's heart.

On his return Fleydon, now more his composed self, confessed that the closest he had come to fulfilling his dark intentions was to persuade the dark lady to sign the flag for him. But he put this singular act of pity to devastating effect. News soon spread that Fleydon had been openly flaunting the flag and signature as proof of his sexual prowess and magnetism. Outraged other Wombelles sought to 'camouflage' the Dark Lady's identity identity by signing their names as well. "It was the old 'I'm Spartacus!' ploy but really I don't mind too much as people assume that I've had carnal intimacies with all of them. Which of course I have...Would you like to see my 'Tally Stick'?"

Composition in Yellow White and Black appears with kind permission of the Wombelles Temperance Society and Glee Club.

Thursday, 4 October 2007

15. Composition in Green and Brown (DA’s Army)

The struggle with the Axis powers of the FA, Surrey FA and the Ryman’s League, so memorably ignited by “Clear THAT!” gradually became one of attrition and Fleydon’s art adapted to the new air of austerity about the club.

“It was obvious that we were in for the long haul. Everyone knuckled down and ‘make do and mend ‘ was the order of the day. Our boffins worked tirelessly behind the scenes trying to crack the hard shell of Ryman resistance but of course those of us hunkered down in the terraces had no idea of what was going on – we had our own more immediate issues to resolve.”

Those that survived the Points War remember primarily the sense of a small island of resistance taking on an overwhelming force – a forlorn hope, a cry in the wilderness, a small spot of light on a stormy night. But also that spark of proud defiance and willingness to stand up and be counted. Fleydon responded as only he could.

“DA’s Army is pure Home Front propaganda. I knew what was required and I did it superbly. Ok so I went a bit wrong on the European coastline – the Netherlands don’t bulge like that, it’s true and I did start off by painting the sea green under the word ‘Army’, but that’s how it was – I couldn’t afford to start off anew. Those sheets had been donated by one of our wealthier fans who wished to remain anonymous, but we just couldn’t afford to get rid of them.

As to the symbolism, well you’ll note that the heart of the eagle lies directly above Wimbledon whilst the FA symbols are firmly in Europe, enjoying a freebie junket and a liquid lunch before weaving their way unsteadily back to the Channel Tunnel. The 'Army' of the title represents the swell of opinion represented by Don’s fans who would symbolically ‘like to have a word with you’ when the drunken cohorts of the FA finally cross the Channel.

Fleydon paused here as he contemplated the only individual to be explicitly identified on one of his works. A rare honour and an obvious indication of the level of respect accorded the man.

"DA was our Manager at the time who saw us through the worst of times. Sadly after the war finished the electorate rejected him, which I think hurt him after all he had done in the name of the team during those difficult times. He took his rejection with humility though. He was a truly great man and a gent to boot. Sadly he later went into a steep decline and was eventually was forced to find work in St Albans. At least, thank god, he has the memories.”

Composition in Green and Brown (DA’s Army)
featured heavily in the propaganda campaign, being photographed in the South London Press. It was also later incorporated into the Victory Medal design (the famous ‘Pyrrhic Cross’) awarded to all combatants. After the war the original was signed by many of the survivors and presented to DA following his defeat at the polls. It is currently preserved in an official black plastic bin-liner and stored in the great man’s loft.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

14. Composition in Blue, Yellow and Blood Red (Clear THAT)

We now reach a period of the exhibition that saw Fleydon sucked into a maelstrom of political activism both literally and figuratively storming the barricades on behalf of his beloved club.

“Everyone can remember where they were when news of the thirteen point deduction came through. Shops and offices emptied onto the street and much of the capital ground to a halt in disbelief. It was up to activists to take a lead in galvanising public feeling and I was proud to do my bit. ‘Clear THAT!’ was created in a single evening not by an artist of genius, but by a FAN, a fan possessed of passion, and anger, and...well, a burning sense of injustice really. The FA had done for us once and they were trying to do for us again. Well over my dead body!! Fleydon is not a door-mat for emasculated bureaucrats!! Fleydon is Passion! Fleydon is Art! Fleydon is Instinct! ....In truth, it was my finest hour...”

Unveiled that same night to roars of public applause, ‘Clear THAT!’ caught the mood of the crowd and sparked the flame of resistance. Never one to shrink from the limelight Fleydon basked in his renewed notoriety. Compared by some for its emotional intensity to ‘Guernica’ by Picasso, Fleydon believes ‘Clear THAT!’ goes far beyond its predecessor. For a start, as he points out, it was in colour...

“I was gently criticised for depicting petty officials spraying blood. In fact the red is actually my own blood and it was supposed to depict the whiff of revolution in the air, not a bloody nose. I had run out of match-pots of blue and black paint, which is why the figure is not finished at the back, so I had to improvise. The book clutched to the stalwart hero's chest is ‘The Spirit of Wimbledon’ that I had just received as a present. I had some yellow paint so put the book in to take up some space on the blue shirt. It works quite well, even if you can’t read it very clearly. Power and learning harnessed to a single cause! Unstoppable, like the club!! I think it is undeniably a great work but I do wish people would stop referring to it as Take That!, which I believe is a modern acapella troupe. I find that demeaning…”

“Clear THAT!” is on display today thanks to the FA. It currently hangs in their Museum of Football Memorabilia at Soho Square

Monday, 1 October 2007

13. Composition in Black and Red (The Tempest Pigeon)

For some months after its unveiling Tempest Pigeon was interpreted by many as a minimalist exercise in the exploration of hubris. Others made the connection with the song Skyline Pigeon by Elton John, a poignant evocation of a yearning yet trapped soul, reflected in the picture of the ‘pigeon’ reaching for the sky with but a single wing (the other being symbolically ‘clipped’ by the artist). What could the ‘Parade’ refer to? Most assumed that it was an oblique reference to the ‘parade of life’, and our journey through it. Tempest was obviously a storm reference as well as being the name of the main stand. So most critics were in broad agreement that what we were presented with was a profound message in the form of a warning - an unfulfilled life, trapped, frustrated and symbolically ‘clipped’ can only lead to a ‘storm’ of repressed emotion which can in turn ruin the smooth passage through life. Sombre, yet touching.

“It’s a nice interpretation, I like it a lot. Very poetic... but to be honest, not quite what inspired me. What actually happened was that one of the Main Stand pigeons flew overhead before the Horsham game. I was making my way back to my ‘special place’ with a cup of tea and a tray of chips when the cursed beast dumped its load on me, much to the amusement of those around. ‘Mayo on the chips!’ was one of the cry’s that went up, I recall. After cleaning myself up as best as I could, I quickly painted the flag from scraps of material in the back of the car as a warning to my friends still queuing and I put it up at half time to dry.

We won with a last minute goal and an icon was born!”

Fleydon smiled quietly “But let’s keep that quiet shall we? I think I prefer the ‘official’ version…”

Composition in Black and Red (The Tempest Pigeon) is owned by AFC Wimbledon and is flown at times of increased pigeon activity

Thursday, 27 September 2007

12. Composition on Blue (‘Feel the Force’)

Stylistically ‘Feel the Force!’ harks back to classics such as ‘Look into My Eyes!’ and ‘Nice Clean Sheets’ with its use of bold colour, bordered and contrasted with strong blocks of black. It is a style that Fleydon finds both comfortable and emphatic

“For this work I wanted to get back to basics somewhat, to remove the imagery and, dare I say it, the intellectualism of more recent works. As an artist I am also somewhat of an angler – I have to hook my audience and play them like a fish. If they are biting I have to keep them hungry – I mustn’t overfeed them or they’ll loose interest. ‘Feel the Force was a direct appeal to those viewers that come along to the Cherry Red Records Fan’s Stadium Kingsmeadow not only to view my work, but to look at some of the football as well. I wanted to KISS them!”

Fleydon threw back his mane of dark, tightly curled hair and laughed at my surprise

“Not physically of course, although I would certainly make an exception in one or two cases. No sometimes I need to Keep It Simple for Supporters. It’s chicken broth art…”

Chicken broth it may be but Fleydon did risk alienating his audience with his outburst at the unveiling.

“In hindsight it was my fault but the canvas was the wrongs size. The players are mythic Titans striking the earth, literally causing the sparks to fly– they embody the unstoppable spirit of the club, an untamed primal force, lightening at the dawn of time. The tremors roll through the Tempest End and equate to the physical shaking as the crowd celebrate a goal. The trouble is that when hanging 'in situ' supporters obscure the key reference, the lightening flash. Instead it looked like two drunks leaning against each other, squashing little people. It upset me and I over-reacted. Pushing the crowd aside was not an appropriate response and I apologise for my actions.”

Those sadly injured in the ensuing panic and rush have since resolved their actions out of court and a level of equilibrium has once more restored to the terraces.

‘Feel The Force’ is still owned by the artist. It enjoys occasional hangings in the Tempest End(mainly during mid-week cup games) in the hope that one day it will be seen in it’s full glory.

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

12. Composition in Fur (Wombling Free)

Last season Haydon the Womble held an open competition to design a suitable flag to represent him to the wider public. The competition criteria was to 'rouse the crowd, to provide an ecological message and to be robust enough to always fly when the Womble was in residence'. As a result of a bet, Fleydon entered a canvas in the names of two promising youth players, confident that even without the prestige of his name that the quality of his work would win through.

“I had to change my style completely, of course” remarked Fleydon the quality of the fur and the texture of the cloths were, simply, outstanding. So much so that my two assistants found the flag more enjoyable to touch than the Womble! Of course I won – I never doubted for a moment that I would – but it gave me great enjoyment watching all the presentations, speeches and ceremonies, knowing that Fleydon was the real winner. The girls did well though and they had their five minutes of glory, even if it was windier than they found comfortable!”

Despite Fleydon’s eventual theatrical and highly embarrassing revelation of his true authorship, Heydon the Womble elected to retain the flag for official duties, mainly because as it later transpired Wombling Free had been the only competition entry.

Composition in Fur ('Wombling Free') appears with permission of Haydon the Womble and can be seen in the Tempest End at home matches.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

11. Composition in Grey and Green (Behold the Don)

Behold the Don is one of Fleydon’s least regarded works despite being in his own words ‘a spiritual and divine attempt to capture the essence of the men behind the shirt. It is Football as a question, or rather a plea…’ However it is a plea that seems to have fallen on stony ground as it is regularly voted one of Zoo Magazine’s top five ‘Flag’s Fit For Burning’.

Fleydon seems to accept this as the price for
‘baring my soul a little further than was really necessary’ although he cannot help pointing out that he felt at least some of the opprobrium directed was because some were still convinced that the hair of the figure was modeled on that of Peter Winkleman rather than the actual model Luke Garrard. “If it was supposed to be Winkie I’d of done the hair in thick oils!” he chuckled in his distinctive West Country burr “but it was watching Garrard and his refusal to let opposing forwards pass that was the real inspiration.

‘Ecce Homo – Behold the Man’ were the words of Pilate as he threw Christ to the mob, and that’s what I feel like shouting as Garrard takes his place in the team. Behold the Don! He doesn’t normally have all those extra limbs of course – he is no Shiva the Destroyer – but they are symbolic of his determination that ‘none shall pass!’. However, I must concede that he does sometimes have an aura of grubbiness about him (hence his nickname ‘Stig of the Dump’) so I thought I’d put in a bit of grey around the figure, like an aura of soot enveloping a mighty steam locomotive!”

However many are left cold by the religious overtones within the work. Mr Garrard’s feelings on the matter are too well-known to bear further repetition and I was happy to leave this curio of a flag and to move on to other, more rewarding works…

Composition in Grey and Green (“Behold the Don”) remains unsold and is currently being used as a duvet cover by the artist

Monday, 24 September 2007

10. Composition in Yellow, Blue, Red and Green (“Attack on All Fronts”)

“The most potent memory I have of this particular works (one of my favourites by the way) is of the extraordinary lengths I had to go to in posing the models. I had jerry-rigged a ladder to the wall of my garage that leaned at the correct angle necessary for that feeling of dynamism that suffuses the whole canvas. The top two models held on to poles to balance and prevent themselves slipping off the rungs. That is why their hands are so tightly gripped - I had to paint the poles out. The poor boy at the bottom though had no such support and complained incessantly of back problems throughout the day.”

On its unveiling there was a degree of unease with the evident age and lack of fitness of the central character but Fleydon dismissed these issues with characteristic impatience “They are fools. They confuse symbolism with naturalism. Why the goalkeeper only had one leg so obviously he’s not meant to be taken literally as a goalkeeper, although that might explain why he complained about leaning so much. What I celebrate is a team of three facets –youth, man and behemoth. The behemoth is a centre-back with much experience in his last year as a player who is soon to be ‘away’ from the rest (and hence the choice of strip). Every side has one…every side needs one!”

Public opinion soon swung away from the critics and the composition soon found favour as a poignant allegory for the short life of a footballer

Composition in Yellow, Blue, Red & Green (“Attack on All Fronts”) is currently on loan to the Rt. Hon. D. Beckham and hangs at New Posh Towers, Los Angeles

Sunday, 23 September 2007

9. Composition in Blue and Green (“Raiders of the Rymans”)

“What” I asked Fleydon “are we to make of Raiders of the Rymans’? To me it looks like a populist attempt to cash in on a summer blockbuster film. It is not a work that has added to your critical renown, but you insisted that it be included in the exhibition. Why was that?”

Fleydon turned and faced me full on, fixed me with a firm stare and placed an arm on my shoulder. ”This work” he said quietly “caused me more angst, sweat and anxiety than any other. It is a work brimming with religious significance. If you look closely you can see the revisions, the changes the sheer frustration etched on the canvas. This is no pot-boiler, money-making attempt to fleece innocents but a cri-de-coeur.

I love this picture as only a parent can love a sick child. It struggles, and the cruel world laughs but they laugh at an allegory for the very club itself – Wimbledon rising, born again, a glorious resurrection!. Look, in religious painting the skull represents the transitory nature of life – in here it reflects the transitory passing of a club itself – the death knell of Wimbledon FC. The crossed bones often refer to the cross at Golgotha, ‘the place of the skull’, a place of death, but ultimately of hope and resurrection – the feathers are attributed to St Barbera’s home town of Heliopolis, the birthplace of the fabulous Phoenix – the golden yellow of the cloth represents the sun whose re-birth brings such joy to the world.

The grin of the skull? That obviously shows a triumph over death, a laugh in its face as it were. The scroll at the bottom is often used to represent old testament prophet’s who record wondrous prophesy - and what better prophesy than that of our beloved team writ large? And finally the hat – not a tricorn as many assume, but a black biretta, symbol of the priest who has the power to comfort and provide a path to salvation. And what emblem is depicted on that biretta? The two-headed eagle of Caesar who ‘came, saw and conquered’ – perfect!”

He stood back from the flag, tears in his eyes and emotion gripping his body. “My god what a flag - it has it all, the whole wondrous story on one sheet. THAT is the depth of emotion, of feeling and passion embodied in this picture, not some rip-off of a movie. That attitude makes me spit! Football is my religion, AFC Wimbledon is my denomination and the Cherry Red Records Fans’ Stadium Kingsmeadow is my church. And we will rise again, mark my words!”

As Fleydon’s face contorted with anger we paused for a while to allow the passion to subside. “And the legend ‘Raiders of the Rymans’ I asked, "does that have any religious significance?” “No, none…” he admitted “but my agent felt it would make it more attractive as a potential t-shirt design – at least until we are promoted.” He gave out a deep, bellow of a laugh “Of course I might be long gone by then! Clubs might be resurrected, but I doubt I will!”

Composition in Blue and Green (“Raiders of the Rymans”) is appearing courtesy of the Disney Corporation.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

8. Composition in Grey (“Raising Standards”)

“But please, let us forget Ms Tracy Eminem and her shallow female sexuality for one moment” said Fleydon, passing swiftly along the line, and let us concentrate on a real phallic symbol. War and Football – so often linked whether playing across the trenches, Christmas day truces or ‘Escape to Victory’ -the vigour of young men competing at their peak. ‘Erecting the flag’, yes… sex, combat and AFC Wimbledon this picture has it all. Look at the angle of the pole and the cluster of rounded shapes at the bottom – if you squint I think you will see the phallic embodiment of a rampant club. I shiver whenever I pass it. It’s symbolism is so powerful, so intense. The original photograph might have been quite well-known, but my re-staging has I feel, a more honest, earthy touch.”

I asked Fleydon if there was anything about the work that he would change. Well, one technical thing that struck me at the time was how tricky it is painting a fluttering flag on a fluttering flag! Creases, like faces, are a bit tricky…”

In an extraordinary statement, Fleydon then claimed to have proof that the original photograph, ostensibly of the capture of Iwo Jima, was actually staged in the desert of Nevada. It’s a conspiracy you know – and a cover up” He leant toward me and winked. “But I know the truth – Art opens both doors and tongues you know…!”

(Composition in Grey appears with kind permission of the Commanding Officer, Area 51, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada)

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

7. Composition in Green (Clean Sheets)

Those with a taste for gossip and scandal will recall that ‘Composition in Green’ was the centre-piece of fierce, vindictive and very public spat. Tracy Eminem, linked by Hello! magazine to Fleydon and widely assumed to be his lover, declared her intention to see that stunted sod in the courts’. Fleydon, however had no qualms about clearing the air – “Of course it was about her – anyone could see that. I just upset the young lady with my refusal to be used as a stepping stone in her career. As a far superior artist it was only natural that I presented as an essential notch on her bed-post. Or in this case stain on her bed!”.

Fleydon claims that having been stalked by Eminem and lured into her bedroom, she then made it clear that his “essential seed, my creative juices, my élan vital!” were to be used in her new artwork “My Bed and other Stubborn Stains”. Fleydon says he objected and left the room with his honour (and fluids) intact. But he couldn’t let it lie there, literally or figuratively. "I am afraid that I am not used to being used by women. My sense of honour was pricked, no doubt partly as a result of the latin blood through my mother's side. Whatever it was, I had to respond."

"Composition in Green signifies life, growth and resurgence whereas Eminem’s My Bed is, literally, a pit of chthonic mire. The Keeper (of virtue?) represents the last line of defence but also the first line of attack and I am sure the astute critic will note the phallic and impish boot tightly bound with laces. Power, restraint, life and vigour - and I am sure the motto speaks for itself. Ms Eminem please take note!”

Later that day Fleydon admitted that Tracy Eminem had taunted him about his ‘Little’ goalkeeper and laughingly referred to the work as ‘Dodgy Keeper’, However he insisted that the two artists had since resolved their differences and would be presenting the Turner prizes together later this year.

(Composition in Green has recently been purchased at auction by Proctor & Gamble and will soon feature as the new ‘face’ of Daz washing powder.)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

6. Composition in Yellow and Blue (Dons March to Glory)

This monumental work, in concept if not execution, utilised more swatch-pots than any other of the artist’s works, in some place being applied to the depth of four millimetres. The vision of AFC Wimbledon as a well-drilled, organized and highly focussed unit proved a sensation when first unveiled, gloriously catching the zeitgeist of it’s age. Later, with the deflation of hopes and the shredding of innocence following the highly contentious ’18 point incident’ it was re-evaluated and critics raised shrill voice against it. Fleydon too seems to share at least some of the reservations

I reminded Fleydon of one well-known critics assertion that the characters depicted reminded him of ‘A gaggle of zombies on their way to a gay pride march’. Fleydon blushed perceptibly and muttered something about ‘Action Men’, his Uncle Albert and the fact that the flag might “.. reflect a brief period of experimentation and discovery in my private life. Besides, painting heads can be very tricky sometimes and it could be that now and then things don’t come out as you might have hoped. But it’s a backlash, these things pass…”

Fleydon then took me firmly by the elbow and lead me swiftly on to the next canvas

Composition in Yellow & Blue (Dons march to Glory) appearing by kind permission of the Stonewall Memorial Fund

Monday, 17 September 2007

5. Composition in Pink and Black (‘Eyes’)

Justly famous for being one of the few of Fleydon’s works to be clearly visible from the Main Stand, ‘Eyes’ has achieved iconic status and was used on the cover of a recent unofficial biography ‘Surrender to the Power of the Fleydon!’. The fact that he is widely assumed to have copied the eyes themselves from a Roy Lichtenstein work and lifted the text from a popular television show does not seem to bother him. “I knew Roy, we were good buddies, we shared drinks, ideas and women. It should be obvious to anyone that Roy's painting is actually based on a sketch I did of Roy himself when he found I'd finished his last bottle of Scotch. But let's not get caught up in the details - Roy’s dead and let’s face it no one will remember the catch-phrase in a couple of years time. But this will live forever! Think of it as a re-interpreting of source material just like Shakespeare. The sum is greater than the parts...”

Critics have also noticed that the work is lined, unlike most of Fleydon’s work.
Being substantial in both size and feel this attention to detail seems indicative of a man keen to control his own memory. For all the doubts around it ‘Eyes’ obviously has a special place in Fleydon’s affections.

(‘Eyes’ is in the artist’s private collection)

4. Composition in Yellow and White (‘Form Follows Function’ or ‘3Fs’)

Following several months rehab as a result of his Calpol/Bovril induced psychosis, Fleydon eventually emerged from his deep psychic trauma refreshed and revitalised.

"It was like a re-birth for me. I felt cleansed and purged. I felt as though I’d had an epiphany, a symbolic re-birth. As a (metaphorical) ‘clean slate’ I dressed in white lined and ate only fruit, seeds and water. At first my art suffered as I sought to re-ignite that emotional intensity, but I soon found myself in a place of order, serenity and cool. Calm logic percolated my psyche, although I must admit the diet was playing havoc with my bowels. The result was a statement –‘Form Follows Function’. Or, and not many have picked up on this, was it not actually a statement but in reality a question...?

I took up yoga as part of my new regime and was amazed at what the body could do could do – look, even after all these years I can gauge to an inch what stresses and strains my limbs can take."

At this point Fleydon dropped to the floor and into what seemed to be an ancient yogic knot. His gaunt frame and spindly limbs awkwardly reconfigured themselves. When he was eventually able to right himself he commenced a low, murmured chant. We listened in silence

A good thirty minutes later, still in his extraordinary position, he broke the silence with a sigh ‘You know, at that point in time I felt the body was a machine and a team, such as AFC Wimbledon, merely a collection of small machines combining to make a bigger machine. If the machine/team was made out of the correct parts then the team would function. If the team functioned then we would be guaranteed a good run of form – it follows then that ‘Form Follows Function’. I was completely unaware that someone else had used the phrase before. It confused my message, made things awkward.’ He paused and thought a while before continuing.People thought I was talking about building houses or something. They said they didn’t understand exactly what I meant. Now, with the benefit of hindsight I’m not so sure that I do too. Does it really matter though?

Stylistically though, I like the blue/black letters and there were lots of straight lines, which I like painting. So on the whole, despite really being a reaction to ‘Screaming Eagle’, I think 3F’s has a lot going for it. - and could you help me up now please?"

‘Form Follows Function’ has most recently appeared in a Don’s Trust election manifesto. Fleydon declined to comment on the politicization of his work.

(Form Follows Function is part of the artist’s private collection)

Friday, 14 September 2007

3. Composition in Black and Red (‘Screaming Eagle’)

'Screaming Eagle' was nothing short of sensational when unleashed onto an unsuspecting public. It threw down the gauntlet to notions of the ‘neat’ so prevalent in contemporary football flags, called into doubt the sanity of the artist and questioned the very suitability of flags as a public and uncensored art form. Compared by many in it’s emotional intensity to Munch’s The Scream it is (as Fleydon points out) obviously twice as powerful because it features two heads, which is twice as many as Munch painted.

Fleydon visibly quails before this powerful work, his powerful frame sags and his perfect teeth seem to loose their lustre.

‘A bad, bad time for me. This is Art as Psychotherapy, a graphic representation of the power of the nightmare and the fear of sleep. I painted it freehand, from the sub-conscious in one sitting. I used an old IKEA Roman (eagle?) Blind, symbolic of the shutter against the night that no longer works. The beast is already here, within us, fighting to emerge from the primal id. Of course the drugs didn’t help. I was taking Calpol at the time for a persistent headache and I inadvertently mixed it with Bovril. Then all hell was set loose.’

Some critics picked up on the disturbing undercurrents, even as they stood in awe of the sheer power of the image

‘it looks as though its on caffeine and Benzedrine…’ was one of the more astute comments. Critics then argued about the underlining of the. What did it signify? The Sun ran a competition and came up with several startling suggestions. Fleydon himself remains silent on the matter. Whatever trauma unleashed the beast, it seems, for the present at least, to be safely contained.

(‘Screaming Eagle’ is part of the Tate Modern Collection)

Thursday, 13 September 2007

2. Composition in Pale Yellow and Blue (‘Morden’)

‘Morden’ was produced as a direct result of the unexpected success of ‘Tassels’, but the artist himself seems to find it hard to summarise its appeal. Shuffling uneasily on his crutch he places the weight of his body onto his shattered left leg and regards the flag from a near horizontal plane. He strokes the grey stubble that covers his head thoughtfully

‘Ah yes.. my ‘difficult’ second flag…very much a transitional piece, although it does introduce some new elements, notably the lettering that becomes integral to my later work.’

Pressed as to it’s obvious symbolic resonance - as witnessed by phenomenal poster sales to young students, Fleydon seems bemused. "Of course it’s rooted in a sense of place and Morden symbolises a certain craving and a yearning for excess. ‘Morden/More-than’ is an obvious play on words, hence the two crests. But really, despite its popularity it is one of my least revolutionary works." He looks embarrassed for a while before his pale face lights up with pride. "It brings in the money though and being featured as a running gag in ‘Only Fools And Horses’ really helped my profile – so maybe I should be more grateful than I am!"

Disconcertingly he winked his jet-black glass-eye at me in conspiratorial way and leered again at my photographer before moving along to one of the most influential of modern artworks.

(‘Morden is on loan from Athena Productions Ltd.)