Friday, 26 December 2008
"As usual I've been imitated by a raft of aspiring wannabe's. Banksy for one. That preening oaf approached me when we were playing Raynes Park Vale one Christmas, bought me a mince-pie and engaged me in a very specific conversation about Art and Annonymity. Next thing you know he's the toast of the hip-scene and everyone's asking 'Who is this Banksy?'. Well I know and lets just say that if he pushes his luck too far I might just let his precious annonymity slip. And he's not exactly pin-up material either..."
His own less than familiar visage has also led to confusion, if not outright deception. The most recent to raise Fleydon's ire appeared in the AFC Wimbledon programme dated 2nd December, produced for the Eastleigh game. Although initially suprised, but not displeased, to see that a number of his flags were reproduced in full colour, Fleydon was then enraged by an article perporting to be an 'exclusive' interview with the artist himself
"Well it came as a bit of a shock, opening it up at half-time only to see a photograph of some grinning cacafuego picking his nose and calling himself Fleydon... and then going on about 'rallying points for children' and such-like. Made me feel sick to the stomach to tell you the truth. I immediatley contacted the club who were stunned by my revelations. Immediate investigations pointed to the possibility that they'd been had good and proper by someone they now fear was an undercover Chelmsford City supporter. Envy and a distinct lack of flag-hanging space at their own ground had led some to some wag donning the yellow and blue and 'suggesting' the article to the programme staff. A photographer snaps a few pictures, they conduct an interview and 'bang', job done...
"It might be seen as just a harmless bit of fun, a jape or even - at a pinch - a bit of a wheeze. You might point out that no-one was hurt, that worse things have happened at sea. But come on, people now think I'm a bespectacled baldie with nasal problems who only really started watching Wimbledon in 2002. And as for his comments on the creative process....well words fail me. "
Fleydon has decided not to take action against the club but has engaged a firm of investigators to establish the identity of the Fleydon imposter.
"He'll be scratching the other side of his nose by the time I've finished" was Fleydon's own rather enigmatic comment. "I don't think he'll be trying that one again..."
Wednesday, 29 October 2008
The documentary found Fleydon in unusual waters as he prepared his entry for the "Tempest End All Wimbledon Open Flag Show", an occasional exhibition that brings together flag makers from all over the country with a fair smattering of overseas entrants from Norway, Jamaica and Brazil amongst others. "Bring 'em on. the more the merrier as far as I'm concerned. Doesn't bother me in the slightest." remarked Fleydon laconically "In fact I'd go so far as to say that you need the competition to push the art. For an artist such as myself it's a challenge. Like Tiger Woods playing in the Ryder Cup, the question I have to ask myself is can I adapt my game to meet an unusual situation? Now I'm about to find out."
The Flag Challenge has created so much interest that the final will be shown live on Setanta and to celebrate AFC Wimbledon have graciously agreed to hold their FA Cup 1st Round match against Wycombe Wanderers during the show in order to provide an appropriate background to the competition. "It's nice to have a bit of action in the background, provided the spectators don't obscure the flags. Setanta and the sponsors will be really hacked off if they do - and I couldn't blame them". For an artist who has made blatant commercialism and product endorsement an art form in itself this steely warning was obviously one not to be taken lightly. And so to the process of creation...
"I've a large selection of saved or found items that I feel may be of use in future projects and every now and then one of these items forces itself into my sub-conscious demanding it be acknowledged. Such was the case with my old IKEA tab-topped curtains". Plain and dowdy, two pairs of 'natural' cotton curtains had hung to the rear of 'Chez Fleydon', the famous surreal home of the artist, until replaced with more suitable 'artistic' drapes. "I wasn't going to let them go to waste so I bought some yellow dye, shoved them in the washing machine and hey presto, four new canvas for future use. "
Step 1. The old IKEA curtains are replaced and dyed in the machine. Note how the
dowdy linen is now a vibrant yellow, though still not as vibrant as the
shimmering gauze that replaced them. After an iron they were packed in humidity
controlled surroundings until Fleydon was struck by the muse.
"During the close season I was lurking on various websites when my attention was drawn to the recurring notion of 'Identity'. In football you often here the chant "Who are you?". Intended as an insult ('No matter how famous you think you are, we've never heard of you') it actually raises an important question. Who, in fact, ARE we? At Wimbledon we pay great attention to this question. Interestingly the debate seems to hinge on one letter - 'A' and it's position as a prefix - Wimbledon FC or AFC Wimbledon? The white hot debate that this single letter can generate is amazing. It is both the Alpha and the Omega of the debate, though obviously more Alpha really if you think about it. Of itself it means nothing, but then again it also means everything. For an artist this is most intriguing - it is the gap between the conscious and the unconscious; it is the back of the sofa down which the coin of reason may slip; it is the brand mark on the Wimbledon psyche; the numbered tattoo on the survivors arm. It is both powerful and destructive, that little letter 'A'."
Fleydon took an unusual artistic stance. Instead of 'diving down the back of the sofa after it' as he put it, he decided the best thing was to pretend that the sofa did not exist. "I ignored it, cast it from my mild. As IKEA (where you can get excellent linen curtains ) would have it 'I chucked out the chintz' and concentrated on the core. And for me that core is 'Wimbledon'. Embrace the essence, discard the peripherals, accentuate the positive and, as a result, eliminate the negative."
As usual Fleydon's initial thoughts took shape on his computer. "I'm thinking of banner rather than flag, long enough to proclaim the message but avoiding mention of either AFC or FC. It will be a call to core values. It will be an anthem and a clarion, Roland's horn and the football kicked across the trenches all rolled into one. It will be a giant car-sticker on the rear view window of the ground (for surely that is the role of the Tempest Stand). It will be marvellous!"
Step 2. The basic layout was based on a car sticker with a bold statement of identity backed by the rollicking lyrics to an historic Wimbledon battle tune. The
intention was to leave stupefied outsiders in no doubt that indeed, Wimbledon were back in town.
Phase Two: Getting down to business
"Having decided on the design I set to work. I tend to start at about ten in the evening as soon as Mrs Fleydon and all the small Feyldons have gone to bed. Then I can concentrate on the work in hand." Although he tried to conceal the fact, hidden cameras caught Fleydon taking the image to a place of work where he pinned the canvas to the wall and projected the two crests upon them. Having drawn the outlines in pencil he had a faint guide to the images.
Step 3: The images are projected onto the yellow canvas and pencil is used to pick out the key features. (we were refused access to the workshop for this part of the process)After returning to his studio Fleydon then expertly sliced a bin-liner with an ancient cut-throat razor, inverted the canvas and inserted the thin sheet of plastic. " I don't often work with a canvas of two layers, but if I do I don't like the paint to seep through. It offends my sensibilities.. This will stop it short". Although a sensible precaution the addition of a plastic table cloth suggested that the fear of upsetting Mrs Fleydon was a significant factor in the preparations.
Step 4: A plastic insert helps prevent the paint seeping through onto the table beneath.
"I like to start with the white background when doing a crest. I've two separate crests to do but I intend the yellow dye to act as the background for the FC crest, so that will only require some blue paint. AFC is a right pain though...." Fleydon furrowed his brow in concentration. "So many crinkly bits. It's like the coast of Norway."
Step 5: White emulsion is used to produce the background. The black elements will provide sufficient contrast, so it doesn't have to be too thick.
"The black on this particular crest gives it the power and definition. I like to leave it until last so I'm now filling in the red elements of aggression - beak, talons and eyes. I must admit to a certain frisson of excitement at this juncture..."
Step 6: Red emulsion (Poppy from the Homebase tester pot collection) is used to define the 'areas of aggression'
"And now for the solidity of power - the black. But here I must use a mixture of brushes to ensure the lines are no crossed. The paint itself is thick, turgid and difficult to spread. I would normally dilute it, but this particular weave will suck and absorb any liquid causing blotching and staining. So I persevere, long into the night, determined to at least complete the outline of this magnificent beast."
Step 7: Fine brushes define the outline whilst leaving the larger expanses for less delicate application
It is now 2am and Fleydon has had enough painting. "Come on! Open the wine - I've salami, olives and cheese. Time to make a night of it!" We make our excuses and leave...
Next time: Fleydon tackles the Wimbledon FC crest - but an artistic crisis ensues.
The following day Fleydon was already at work when we stumbled into his workshop in the early hours of the evening. "You're late. Come in. Shut the door. I have, as you can see, begun..." With his blue fabric pen Fleydon had blocked out the outlines as a guide. "A risk, but not a great one. When it's painted in blue, no-one will be any the wiser"
Step 8: The Wimbledon FC crest. Having been projected onto a second curtain and outlined in pencil, the image outline is further defined by blue fabric pen in preparation for the blue paint.
Fleydon then set to with characteristic fervour and vim. When we left him he was still at it, paintbrush slashing here and there, his eyes aglow and a thin sheen of perspiration glistening on his brow "I'll see you tomorrow. And next time bring beer!".
Our return the next day was in stark contrast to scene of concentration and excitement of the previous evening. Fleydon was bleary-eyed, clutching a near empty bottle of Lidl Sangria "Two problems I've got. Not one like anyone else but TWO. How fair is that then, eh?" After much coffee and some of our reserve gingerbread, Fleydon explained his crisis. "First off it was a mistake to rely on the yellow dye on the FC crest. It doesn't stand out and compared to the AFC crest it is plain, dowdy and unassuming. It's supposed to be a meeting of equals dammit!!I mean look at it. God knows I even tried painting a different coloured yellow over the dye but that didn't work. Pathetic. I've decided to leave it, but it will mock me every time I look at it."
Step 9: The crests are not the meeting of equals that Fleydon hoped."My second problem is of a different order of magnitude. I can't position the lettering until the two halves are joined but that will make a banner of nigh on 14ft. Where can I find a wall that big?? This last comment seems to be a reference to his use of a projector to aid with both depicting and sizing of letters. Today, it seemed that all the modern aids were going to be useless. "I'll have to use the old ways" Fleydon remarked ruefully "Pencils, rulers and ages spent on getting the spacing right. With the smaller lettering I can use photocopies as templates,but even that's a pain. I'm beginning to wish I hadn't started now. Ambition will be my downfall..."
Step 10: The smaller lettering is printed out and checked for spelling errors. Looks good so far...
Step 11: At home Fleydon cuts out the shape ready for a rough positional fittingFleydon stood on a chair and looked down at the roughly positioned cloth and paper, now for the first time taking a semblance of its final form. "The positioning looks good and the sizing just about acceptable. Now I have to prepare myself for the joining of the curtains. At that point the banner is born and takes on a life of its own. I then act as nursemaid to the lettering. My least favourite aspect. Give me an interesting image any day..."
Step 12: And a final check shows that the minor problems are not insuperable."I'm beginning to find this discouraging. It's not like art as I know it, more graphic design, but maybe that will all change with the ceremonial joining of the halves tomorrow." Fleydon sighed, took his blanket and headed for bed. It would seem that even the greatest of artists can be discouraged in their work
Next time: The Ceremonial Splicing of the Curtains. Make or break time... and then the lettering beckons
When we next spoke to Fleydon he was anxiously awaiting the return of his banner from the outworkers to whom he had entrusted it. "I don't do sewing. That's not my role. I'm the creative force and I tend to leave the basic stuff to professionals. Beside trying to thread up one of those machines is a nightmare. One thing's for sure though, if they muck this up I'll have their guts for garters."
Step 13: Sweat-shop labourers are forced to work long hours for a pittance as Fleydon 'out-sources' his sewing. The two separate halves are united into one banner.The banner is returned safely and now the spacing of letters can be attempted with some degree of confidence. "The ruler is out and now I have to position the cut out letters in an accurate manner. This is no time for a wobbly hand or faint heart. After tracing around them in pencil I redo it in a felt-tip pen and finally follow it up with paint. It is a long and arduous process. It's a drudge really but at least the letters are manageable. Next up is the main WIMBLEDON lettering, but first I have to establish how much space I have to play with. Excuse me whilst I crack on..." With that Fleydon impatiently waved us away. His head bowed, he had lost his characteristic exuberance and seemed resigned to the long haul. Could we be witnessing the cracking of a great spirit under the twin strains of typography and a deadline?
Step 14: Paper letters are positioned, drawn around then disposed of. Felt-tips mark the edges, a broad brush establishes the outline before a coarser brush is used for the infill. Now Fleydon can establish the size available for his main message
Next time: In the home strait Fleydon struggles to come to grips with his main message. Is 'Wimbledon' just too big for him?
Fleydon had regained some of his old spark when we next spoke to him "Yes I admit I was despondent at times but that's all part of this alchemical process I like to call genius. Now, at last, I have defined my problem. I have a space in the middle of my work 65 cm x 220cm and that space is earmarked for 'Wimbledon'. Using Word Art I wrote out Wimbledon in capital letters and tried and rejected a number of typefaces, looking for an easy but effective visual experience. I then pulled and twisted the text until it was the same ratio on the computer - in this case 6.5cm x 22cm. Then it was a simple case of measuring all the significant elements on paper before scaling them up." Fleydon through back his head and gave a leonine roar of laughter "Easier said than done though. This was on a big scale. Still a work of genius mind you..."
Step 15: The printout is measured an used in turn to define key elements for the main text. Note the delicate scribbles and the consideration absorbed in this draft copy. Deep thought that reminiscent of Da Vinci. Ignore the black paint.The initial working were completed in pencil but when generally happy overall with the positioning they were reinforced in felt tip. The next stage involved use of a fine brush to establish the edges before the large brushes can move in with impunity. As Fleydon commented about his work on this project "My imagination was dulled with such drudge work but by god it's what your right arm's for, it really gets you back to basics. Especially when you cant even get hold of a decent metal 1m long ruler and have to make due with a straight lines from an old Venetian blind!"
Step 16: The measurements are painstakingly transferred leaving a faint pencil outline on the sheet. This is reinforced with black felt-tip marker, just about ready for the application of the powerful blocks of black lettering
Later that evening we found a flushed, exhausted but triumphant Fleydon smeared in black paint, greeting us at his door. "I did it, it nearly broke me but I did it. Cleared me out of paint though - I had to replenish my stocks of Homebase Masonry tester pots, black with a smooth finish, finest black paint on the market. I did use textured finish once, in error, but it was a disaster. Anyway, on it went in bulk, on by far the most expansive area of black in my whole oeuvre. It's taken me hours and now it's up to dry - and what a surprise for my daughter on her birthday. I bet she'll love it. Not that its for her though. Far too valuable for playing with..." We were ushered in to the inner sanctum to catch a glimpse of it hanging in situ, drying gently in the still morning air. It is no exaggeration to say that we were struck with both shock and awe. Our first impression was that it was both perfect and complete. But for a genius such as Fleydon there was always more to do. "Finished? Not yet, now comes the dressing and the practicalities of hanging. But I can take a step back and have a few day's breather. I'm not as young as I used to be. Art takes it out on you, both physically and mentally."
Step 17: Hanging out to dry in all its Glory. But still, as yet, unfinished.
Next time: Finishing touches as Fleydon considers the coming competition
Come the day of the exhibition and Fleydon is on site early. "A true artist will always consider the positioning of their work. It can make or break you." It was also apparent that the tabs had been removed and some re-positioned above and below the main message. "Hanging tabs you know. Very important for the final look of the piece. It's attention to detail that impresses the judges and I've got attention to details in spades" The main stand is filling with works of art all vying for the top spot and the accolades that follow. "I'm mainly interested in the art groupies" remarks Fleydon casually, "Although the money comes in useful of course."
Step 18: The end tabs are removed and a number repositioned along the top and bottom to give secure anchorage pointsModesty forbade Fleydon from telling us how he did in the "Tempest End All Wimbledon Open Flag Show" but press photographs shows both team and mascot stunned into silence at the quality of the art on display and Fleydon had a smug, self-satisfied smile when we next met him. "Lets just say that I'm having a very nice time at the moment and am looking forward to reprising my performance next year." He gave us a wink before turning and making his way back towards his studio. We couldn't help but notice the close attention he was receiving from several excited young women clutching portfolios and bottles of wine. It seems the old lothario had struck gold yet again...
AFC Wimbledon look over-awed by the quality of flags on display, especially 'We Are Wimbledon', the sight of which sent them into a stunned silence. They later lost their FA Cup 1st round match 4-1 but Man of the Match Luke Garrard admitted concentrating had been difficult "We kept on wanting to look at the flags...I mean football's all well and good, but everyone knows that vexillology is where it's at. It's where all the best looking girls go and the guys are so well paid and everything. Sometimes it's so frustrating knowing that however good with home-made paper flags you might be, to get a flag up there it's a whole new ball-game. But credit to them, they're the professionals" .
Saturday, 18 October 2008
As an appendix to the official catalogue we are happy to provide details of more recent works as well as profiling other contemporary flags that often flew alongside those works featured in the Fleydon oeuvre. It may be that scholars of the future may be able to detect terrace influences and themes that are not so clear to those of us so close to the action, and it is to these scholars of the future that we dedicate these entries.
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
"We were approaching the play-offs. The tension was unbearable. Grown men were ashen-faced and women whimpered and shook with tension. It was a terrible mix of 'deja vu' and dread. No-one dared express confidence for fear that confidence be shattered. It was a strange and terrible time. The best of times, the worst of times. Personally, as an artist, I felt
powerless. For two years I had shouted defiance, screamed at our adversaries,' taunted the fates...and what had it bought me? Two play-off defeats and the thrill of being turned over by every relegation-threatened team in the league. Whatever I thought I was doing wasn't working. I was drained and at the end of my tether. And you know that's when I started hearing the voices..."
"Of course I'd heard of Stick Ra, but I didn't know much about him. He doesn't thrust himself at you like some Gods might, you know... Anyway I saw a picture of this powerful, shamanic figure and I knew that, at last, I was coming home. Everything made sense. Everything was right. When I looked at his totems and fetishes, his cheeky mask and his nut-brown Ghandi legs I knew I'd found what I was looking for."
"I didn't fly it in my usual pace, but chose an isolated corner of the Tempest and didn't put it up until just before kick-off. I spent most of the game in silent prayer and - Stick Ra's name be praised - we overcame the Urchins to progress to the final. I learnt a big lesson that day. The Meek Shall Inherit the Blue Square South. I intended to be meek from that day forth.
In design and concept I suppose I was influenced by those Tibetan flags whose fluttering carries their message to the gods above. Except that I had to tie mine down of course as it gets a bit annoying on a windy day and people who get hit by it's flailing edges can get slightly annoyed, but the message seemed to get through anyway. To be truthful I felt it was a flag flown for me, for my benefit, not crowds... and that made it a very powerful and
spiritual tool. Even if it looks a bit boring."
"I don't define myself as an artist anymore. I'm an acolyte and a seeker of the true light, currently undertaking instruction from one of the Elders and searching for the hero within. Let me witness that, despite what the Daily Mail says*, it's a great organization, a holy organization and with luck it'll see me through to the Conference National. In the meantime, and until it does, can I ask you a question? Are you worried about the state of the Earth at this moment in time...? No? Well maybe you'd like to read 'The Flag-Tower'? Come along to
one of our informal cake and pie nights? We have virgins you know...?"
Monday, 21 April 2008
Fleydon himself is so convinced of it's importance that he insisted a whole room of his exhibition be dedicated to this single flag.
"I am by birth a Western Male and it is the vision of the Western Male that has shaped the world in which we live. Like myself, this work is charged with a profound sexuality and unfathomable depths of both power and vulnerability. Truly a soul-baring experience both to create and to contemplate."
Standing together in the dimly lit room, the back-lit image resplendent before us, I felt a shiver of excitement run down my spine. Looking across at Fleydon's fine, leonine profile, his thatch of golden hair swept back, mane-like over his broad shoulders I found myself caught up in the majesty of the moment. When Fleydon turned and looked at me with his slate-grey eyes I felt truly transfixed, a moth caught in the destructive light of his bright candle.
"It's all in the eye you know" he said slowly and with a calm, measured voice "The 'Male Gaze' beloved of cinematic auteurs. Voyeurism. Peep-Shows. What the Butler Saw. The Private (Prying?) Eye. The inescapable fact is that the whole of Western Male sexuality, and therefore Western Art, is based on the concept of the all seeing, all devouring, yet distancing, eye. To see is to objectify, to render the object of the gaze less powerful, less threatening, less unknowing. Typically the female form, of course, with its uncertain depths of devouring fecundity, but the Western Male's need to see, record and list and control spills over into other areas of anxiety. Life, death, religion .... and AFC Wimbledon.
Anxiety is the common currency of all male supporters, myself included, an anxiety centred, of course, around notions of performance. Performance is the dread yardstick by which the supporter nervously measures himself against his peers. 'We didn't perform today. Will we perform next week or are we now too anxious?" Such corrosive attitudes can only be held in check by the Male Eye diffusing the anxiety by observing and objectifying that which is laid before it. A barrage of facts and figures line-ups, whose in , whose out, points lost, points gained, goal difference, shots on target, bad refereeing decisions, all are noted and recorded by the gaze.
'We must have been watching a different game' they cry, and so of course we were. We each watch the game that serves our needs. We each take from it what we need to see and want to see. In a very real sense NutsTV provides us all with football pornography, edited highlights that reduce the anxiety, even when we withdraw in limp defeat."
So much more has been written on the inherent anxiety symbolism within the work by the likes of Camille Paglia and Germain Greer that we must step back a pace and accept our limitations, both of space and time. However I did broach the fact that the male depicted had only one eye. Was there any reason for that? And what of the slogan 'I can see the whole pitch from here, and the Dons are all over them!' ?
"In brief, two eyes imply depth of field and vision. A single eye, however, is a concentrated burst of light, transfixing in a second. Think of HAL, the Eye on the Tower in Lord of the Rings, Bunuels symbolic slicing of the eye (female this time - we can brook no competition!), Daleks and the mighty Cyclops. I htink we can say that Eye = I (see) squared."
He gave a faint smile and continued
With regard to the text, the 'Whole Pitch'? is an obvious metaphor for the bed, scene of primal anxiety and displacement - Have you ever thought of the range of activities men use to distance themselves from the emotional envelopment of the female? I ask you, what are fantasies of cuckoldry, sex toys, lesbianism and even bestiality? Obviously they are nothing more than projections of male anxiety, hasty barricades erected against rampant, emotional, devouring nature of female sexuality. By allowing something more reliable, more willing and more able to step in the anxious male can remove the anxiety (I can't fail if I'm not present) and retire to preserve his fragmented feelings of control through his 'controlling' gaze often represented by his camera or video recorder. Not that I have that problem of course, but I believe lots of others have and they tell me all about it.
Then there's the exultant shout 'The Dons are all over them!' - sexual again of course, I mean do you want me to draw you a picture? Or better still would you like a discreet photograph or two or two?
Uncertain of his intentions and wary of the sudden glint in his eye, I declined his offer and we moved on in uneasy silence.
3.9 Composition in Navy Blue and Flesh ("Whole Pitch") is on view courtesy of the Heffner Foundation, Las Vegas.
Saturday, 29 March 2008
Constance Fleydon is a shadowy figure in the early life and career of the artist and little is known about her, other than rumors that they met through an elaborate internet marriage scam that went badly wrong. Cited by many as an early muse she has, over the years, achieved a reputation in Fleydon mythology akin to a combination of Lucretia Borgia, Yoko Ono and Winnie Mandela, which is no mean feat for a woman of whom no known photograph exists. Fleydon's muttered retort that 'vampires don't leave an image' is an entertaining but fanciful explanation for her uncanny ability to maintain such a low profile
"The Dons Trust brief, such as it was, consisted of the phrase 'JOIN THE TEAM' - apart from that I was left to my own devices. What emerged was, to all intents and purposes, a fine example of inclusivity and harmony. A set of people of all hues and genders joining together to embrace, protect and empower the whole concept of AFC Wimbledon. A very tidy design, I think you'll agree. Certainly the clients were well pleased and the art world responded positively to the work, noting and enjoying the restraint that such a brief imposed upon me - I recall one buffoon remarking 'The wild rose clipped produces the sweetest flowers', which just goes to show what he knows."
Pulling on my tie to bring me down to his own, wheel-chair bound level he smirked and hissed his confession in my ear
"Actually I was pretty pissed off with Constance who fleeced me before running off and setting up shop with a newsagent called Hector. What made it worse was that Hector was a friend and ex-body model of mine I used in my 'Tom of Finland' phase and he was able to supply Constance with certain...err...'facts' that I didn't really want exposed to the tabloids, especially regarding my 'predilections' for engaging in certain 'activities' whilst wearing Dons garb. Not that we haven't all indulged, of course...just that some of us would prefer it kept under wraps, as it were. As part of the terms imposed upon me I was to maintain a silence over the details of the settlement. But there's more than one way to skin a cat - allegory and imagery are part and parcel of an artist's mental make-up. What the picture actually depicts is less a vision of gender and hue embracing a common cause, but my two 'face-less' friends the body model and the invisible woman, publicly hanging me out to dry just before dropping me altogether."
He shook his head ruefully before concluding
"As a wise sit-com character once remarked - 'Tricky chap, Johnny Marriage'..."
Composition in Rainbow Hues ('Trust') is the proud property of the Dons Trust, owners of AFC Wimbledon. It will be flown annually as part of the traditional 'Post-Voting' Membership Apathy Round-Up Festival.
Friday, 29 February 2008
The 'Commissioned Work' has a long and and distinguished history in the world of art - the Sistine Chapel being one of the more notable examples - but it came as a surprise to find that that Fleydon was happy to accept not only a commission, but also to work in collaboration with the Cuban artist Jay Cee. For an individual renown as having an ego the size of a Hillman Minx what, I wondered, persuaded him to contribute.
"I could say it was the stimulating need to justify my ideas to a co-worker; I could claim that a co-operative work was a suitable tribute to a great servant of the club; I could claim that it was the challenge to work within prescribed limits that intrigued me. However, to be honest I figured that I wouldn't have to do much myself as passable flag had been designed already (and lets face it I'm far more famous than that Cuban lothario and every one would think it was my design anyway). There was a good chance the finished work would end up on the box with my name associated with it and a good chance I would probably appear in the next matchday programme. I had heard that 'Hello!' magazine were sniffing around as well so with just a bit of extra effort on my part I reached a whole new market. From my point of view this was a win-win situation all round and, as they say, all publicity is good publicity!"
With a wink and a cocky-cockney saunter Fleydon moved on down the line to his next work leaving me both disheartened and disillusioned. Had being labeled "The World's Greatest Living Artist" finally gone to Fleydon's head? His willingness to profit from others hard work in order to make a quick buck reminded me of Salvador Dali, another of the infamous 'Fleydon Circle'. I felt obliged to reconsider my attitude toward this icon. Was Fleydon, in fact, less an artist and more an arrogant sh*t? Once the seed had been planted I found myself watering it with the corrosive moisture of doubt and with the genius removed Fleydon did seem to have more than his share of character failings
Composition in Yellow, Blue and Spanish ('Frankie') is presently on its way to the USA where it will be flown every 4th July. Since being signed by several Wimbledon luminaries the flag has rapidly increased in value and is currently insured for double figures.
Friday, 15 February 2008
"I'm not happy with this work and I fought hard not to have it included in this exhibition but, hey, what can you do?"
Fleydon almost slouches as he draws his rounded shoulders tight around his neck, reminding me of both James Dean and my Aunt's pet tortoise Flash. He continued with his explanation.
"It's not because of the content - a homage to very dear friend no longer with us - nor because of the intellectual basis of the work but really because of the execution. It suffers through my mistakes and like Frankenstein repelled by my own creation, I am both attracted and repelled in equal measure."
Fleydon pointed to the work with his furled umbrella, waving it over the canvas as though still engaged in the act of painting. There is a discernible sense of disappointment about him and a large sigh wracks his frame.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words but my dear friend Guy Debord* disagreed. He believed that words can conjour up a myriad of mental images especially when the words are chosen with care - a powerful weapon against injustice in hands such as his. Would the rioting Parisian students of the '60's have found inspiration in a Banksey? I doubt it but they did find inspiration in the words of Guy and what is so wonderful to me is that what was true of the young revoloutionaries of Paris is equally true of Terry Brown. Hard to believe? Well it might be seen as a case of convergent evoloution - a similar response to circumstances. Consider the immortal phrase ... "Victory will be for those who create disorder without loving it" - I ask you, what is that other than a succinct summary of Terry's declaration of intent that 'we will win playing football, but if necessary are prepared to 'win ugly'?
Fleydon fell silent again and I tried to gather my thoughts together. It seemed to me that here we have a work that consciously rejects the image for the mentally stimulating power of the word; that then pays homage to a close personal friend and fellow revolutionary; that also echoes the ethos of a team aware that victory can sometimes only be achieved by a disruption of harmony in the opposition - however unaesthetic that may be to the viewer. What, I wondered, could Fleydon find so wrong?
"Execution dear boy. Firstly I bought a king-size canvas in error, which means that the work is inevitably obscured (as in the photo above) and secondly my 'Victory' is far too small. It should have been the word that carried the work but instead the focus is on 'Disorder' and what sort of message is that to send out? I screwed up big time on this one. Guy must be pissing himself laughing"
Composition in Words ("Victory") is currently on loan to the 'Tea Hut Wall Gallery', Kingsmeadow
*Guy Dubord - Situationalist and Marxist Revoloutionary, was a friend of Fleydon from their days together at Stowe and their membership of the Mildenhall Hunt. Dubord delivered the oration at Fleydon's marriage but their relationship became strained in the mid 80's when Dubord declared everything - including Fleydon - a product of his own imagination, a situation Fleydon naturally found intolerable.
Saturday, 9 February 2008
'Ambiguity' is a word that critics often use when attempting to fathom the works of Fleydon. For those not as clever as critics like me this is often seen as a startling statement. 'How can this be so? Fleydon's flags are clarion calls of clarity, as obvious and loud as a street barker selling his wares. How can this be ambiguous?' At first glance this may appear the case, but consider this - the lowly street barker may indeed have a clear voice but what of the ambiguity, the double-entendre, the allusion and, especially in the visual field, the illusion? Exhortation to simpering girls to 'Come and see my cocoanuts!' and winking asides to middle-aged women to check out his 'prime slab of beef' are hardly literal requests!
So it is with Fleydon. When faced with the blank command to Make Every Shot Count, a wise man will pause, take stock, step back a pace or two ... and consider their response.
Fine words butter no parsnips, my saintly Nan once advised me, adding as an afterthought that I should also remember that the devil is in the detail and to always read the fine print. Wise sentiments that have stood me in good stead over the years.
On an objective viewing my suspicions were aroused almost immediately. Where is the crest, the team strip and other obvious visual Wimbledon insignia so prevalant in Fleydon's work? And then there's the man himself, elderly with a full set of whiskers, his eyes wide open and in his hands a weapon - quite possibly a Winchester Repeating Rifle, although the detailing is a little obscure. What are we to make of him? I confess I found myself more and more perplexed the closer I looked. What was it that Fleydon was telling me here?
Time, I felt, to go back to basics and to examine the obvious.
We seem to have a simple message here: Shots at goal are a good thing, but only when they are decent efforts. Blazing over the bar is a waste. Careful shooting is the order of the day then. So far so good and Fleydon chooses to illustrate this dictum with a picture of a cowboy, in the hope that wayward forwards can make the link. Simple and straightforward - no room for ambiguity here. And yet, and yet... something did not add up...
The figure has a grimy yellow neckerchief, it is true, and a sweat-stained blue shirt. But the eyes are wide with fear, the clammy hands locked on to his weapon with a rigidity of sheer terror, not with the usual relaxed insouciance of a Wimbledon player ordering his pint at the bar. He is old, bewhiskerd, befuddled - he's not even aiming his weapon and for all his hardware he looks, well, impotent? The signs were all wrong, I felt a sickness at the bottom of my stomach and my mind was literally spinning as we stood before the canvas. Surely that man couldn't be a Don? What on earth was going on in Fleydon's mind? What was he telling us?
And then it hit me. Just as Colonel Kurtz was struck by his revelation in the jungles of Vietnam, then I too saw everything with a clarity and precision. It was so neat, so obvious and so right. The clue was in the motto Bushwhacked by the Womble Army. Well it was already clear that the old man wasn't a Womble and describing him as an 'army' was laughable and besides bushwhacking is a young man's sport (or certainly was in my Prep School). It was then that the crystal sliver of comprehension pierced my brain. He wasn't the 'whacker, he was the 'whacked!
Everything fell into place - the bewhiskered old man was symbolic of a senior yet decrepit adversary fallen on hard times, as an archetypal 'cowboy' he represented shoddy performances and lack of quality, his yellow and blue were actually the colours of Torquay United, not the Dons, and the fear in his eyes was induced by the sight of lean, hungry and young Wimbledon players laying siege to his goal. He has mentally 'circled his waggons' and has the air of one who knows his time has come. Make Every Shot Count was the instruction to our players aiming to finish him off not advice to a man with flaccid and damp cartridges. Again it reminded me of Kurtz, the symbolic cow ripe for slaughter and scrifice.
Ambiguity? I'll give you ambiguity....this was masterful misdirection that really forces an intellectual gyration from the viewer. Quite brilliant!
Fleydon, however seemed un-moved by my analysis.
"Yes, well, maybe... there might be something in it I suppose. Artistically I was happy with my work but a fat lot of good it does if the opposition refuse to take the message on board. My obvious mistake was to depict the 1879 Winchester, not an earlier model. The 'Gun that Won the West' looks as though it did the job for the South-West as well. And as for my close
friend Roscoe with his cowboy name and his 'love of the club'? Ha! Less The Man with No-Name and more Bang, Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down. I always prefered Shane anyway."