Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Composition on a Pagan Theme ("Stick Ra")

And so we come to the final flag in what has been a most spectacular and enlightening exhibition. This last exhibit brings the Fleydon story bang up to date - and what a curious work it is. Small, apologetic almost, it oozes a quality not seen in any of Fleydon's previous works, that of...humility.

"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..."
Felydon's aural delusions coincided with a period of religious and personal upheaval. Having professed most of the orthodox religions at one time - attracted more it seemed by the regalia, interesting smells and obscure imagary than by any true conviction - Fleydon now found himself looking for solace in an unusual place.

"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."

Just in time for the Hornchurch game Fleydon prepared a simple expression of hope. It took the form of a sincere and very humble appeal to Stick Ra to, 'if it wasn't too much bother' protect and deliver the team and its supporters from the Rymans League.

"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."

Now describing himself as a 'Stickrologist' Fleydon is happy to pass on a sizeable percentage of his income (or 'tithes' as it is referred to), as well as the undoubted cache of his name for the furtherance of the Latter-day Church of Stick Ra.

"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...?"

Leaving Fleydon, with his radiant face and supine posture, I can only hope that this negation of the artistic within him was a temporary measure. Throughout the exhibition tour he had blown hot and cold , ranted and raged, sworn and smiled as he relieved the traumas and emotions of a an extreme artistic life. If nothing else he had always been a cauldron of emotion but here, right at the end, it seemed the cauldron was on simmer and the flame turned low. Whether he ever produces another work only time will tell but surely even the opiate of religion will be unable to quench such a mighty soul for long?

Composition on a Pagan Theme ("Stick Ra") is the property of The Stick Ra Religious Enterpise Co. of Florida.

*"Weeping Stick Ra Image In Stained Towel 'A Bogus Fraud!' Lady Di Trial Told"
Daily Mail 14 August 08

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