Friday, 12 October 2007
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
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'.
“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
“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
‘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
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
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
“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.
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
“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
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