Sunday, 9 August 2009

These Boots

Another season, another flag... The opening of the new season began, as always at Kingsmeadow, with the traditional 'Parade of the Venerable Flags' held at sunrise as the watery orb crept over the Kingston Road End. Last years mascots each held a flag folded in the approved style that were then ceremonially 'offered' and 'declined' by three of the stands before finally being 'accepted' by the Chief Steward at the Tempest End. Each flag was then hung in its approved place according to seniority. A sprinkling of blessed Malt-based Chip Condiment from the Tea Hut, a few seconds of silent contemplation followed by three rousing cheers and the new season was officially under way.

Another tradition was also being scrupulously observed - the unveiling of the new flag for the first home game of the season. As usual, at the first hint of a Fleydon-related 'happening', Art & Artists Review were on the spot and eager to talk to the legend himself.

'These Boots' is a work in the traditional Fleydon style and is sure to delight those who find his more challenging works, such as 'Victory' or 'Whites of their Eyes' just a step to far. Fleydon himself though saw the work as less than comforting.

"It's disquieting, subversive and slightly sinister. Yes, at first glance it seems almost familiar, a bucolic image of a time long-passed. The clarity of colour and line are based on the Disney colouring techniques that we are all so familiar with and it seems to hark back to a time of childhood innocence and park games. The symbolic representation of daisies sprinkled amongst the grass for example - it's all so good natured and reassuring is it not?"

Fleydon's referencing of Disney cartoons carries more than just a visual similarity as further contemplation of the work brings on feelings of unease and disquiet, not unlike that bought on by the Wicked Queen in Snow White or the ominous presence of the hunters in Bambi. Then you realise that the focus of the image is not the ball or the players - what we can see of them - but their boots. And what boots they are. No hint of the Fancy-Dan efforts crafted for John Main and Danny Kedwell, it's not even clear that they are designed for football at all.

"Boots are a very strong image with many psychological associations- working boots, the stamp of the military boot, the dominatrix, the jackboot, Kipling's poem 'Boots', being 'too big for your boots' and most significantly 'hauling oneself up by the boot-straps'. What we have here are a group of modern players - witness the current strip - harking back to a mental toughness personified by the boots of their illustrious predecessors, the Old Centrals and the Crazy Gang. Boots symbolise power. The Roman Emperor Caligula, for example, was so named because as a small boy he was dressed in miniature military uniforms. Caligula is actually Latin for 'little boots'. What we need at Kingsmeadow are a team of mental Caligula's, ruthless, strong determined and focused - although disemboweling your sister and promoting your horse to positions of authority may be taking it a bit far for most of our current squad."

The Imperial Roman links are further reinforced with the depiction of Caeser's two-headed eagle. For the first time ever on a Fleydon work the badge and its white backround are missing. This Fleydon informs me, is a symbolic 'freeing' of the bird. "It's national can spread its wings and fly. The world is its oyster..."

The other noticible element is the quotation from Nancy Sinatra's 1966 (symbolic in itself?) hit These Boots Are Made For Walking. Walking, not football? So the choice of the lyric isn't intended as a physical threat then more a mental one? "Exactly. When it comes to the game we want to make sure the lads have their psychological studs on. To paraphrase Nancy Sinatra - the season's started so 'Come on Boots - Start Walking!"

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Appendix 8: Merton Honours Fleydon

The Art & Artist Review were honoured this week to have been invited to a very special Civic Reception hosted by the charming and youthful Mayor of Merton, Councillor Martin Whelton. This very special occasion was expressly to acknowledge Fleydon's achievements and what has been, by any measure, a remarkable season of flag-related art and provided the community as a whole the opportunity to pause, reflect and rejoice. As Councillor Whelton noted in his powerful and emotionally charged speech, over the last year...
...Fleydon has provided a beacon, a light, a symbol of all that is good about Merton and it's people. He has shown that the borough is more than just tennis, more than the end of the Northern Line, more even than a few decent Korean restaurants in Raynes Park. With his powerful imagary and razor-sharp intellect he bought joy to a dispirited people. Where there had been discord, he bought harmony. Where there had been error, he bought truth. Where there had been doubt, he bought faith. Where there had been despair, he bought hope and where there had been hunger he bought chips. But most significantly of all, where there had been spaces, he bought flags. Wycombe Wanderers, Basingstoke, St Albans - names that wil live forever more in the minds of those that were lucky enough to be there. For those that weren't there was always the celebratory match programme and the 'Time Out' article and the chance to rub at least the image of one of his miraculous flags on a wound, sore or chronic skin condition. For these and many other reasons, Merton are proud to bestow on Fleydon the Freedom of Mordon and the hereditary title of Signeur Doigt of St Helier with the subsequent personal lifting of all local parking restrictions.
Fleydon himself had shown unusual humility and had extended an invitation to both the team and management staff for the inspirational part they had played in his succesful season.
I couldn't really have done it without them. As my collective muse they certainly deserve some of the attention, although not most, obviously. I'm more than happy to permit them to bring along their own trophy and to make tonight a true celebration of both art AND sport. Though mainly the art, because when you get down to it, that's where you find the real money and kudos.
The celebratory flag display that greeted the invitees was set out in such a way as to lead the viewer on a spiritual and emotional journey akin to that undertaken by a squire, prior to his elevation to knighthood. As the astute and cleverer amongst you will note, this was a journey not unlike that taken by the club prior to its elevation to the Conference National.

The Grand Entrance:
'We are Wimbledon' & 'Behold the Don'
"A statement and a subtle reference to a re-born Messiah. A squire would, of course, had to have pledged himself at an altar before undertaking his personal pilgrimmage. Just so the viewer as they enter the Civic Centre, Merton. A nice start to the evening, don't you think?"
[Note: the balloons were donated by the Art & Artist Review and were later distributed to needy children in local schools]
Looking Over My Shoulder: 'The Mystic Tryptych', 'Wombelles' and 'Raising Standards'
"Themes of struggle and chivalry dominate this sector as mediaeval symbolism, modern combat and delectable maidens all struggle in the artist's psyche. The heads featured below give an idea of the sheer scale and grandeur of the display."
Withdrawing: 'The Devil is a Don' & 'Nice Clean Sheets'
"Temptation is the issue here... Maybe issue was a poor choice of word but certainly we need to retain purity of soul and clarity of thought. But are we desperate enough to regain our league place that we are ready to sell our collective soul to the Devil? Will we soil our metaphoric sheets with unclean issue? Metaphorically?"The Swivel: "A Better Class of Team"
"The point of transition. We've made our statement, set off on our chivalric crusade, faced our personal demons and temptations and now... through innate decency and built in goodness... find we can rise above them."
The Conclusion: "A Dons Man" and "Form Follows Function"
"I complete my journey with the contemplative acceptance of a job well done. I have reached a point of transition. I have, as my dear friend Joseph Campbell would say 'Followed my Bliss'. With a pipe full of Old Licorice Shag I can lok forward to the season to come and to new challenges, new accolytes and new flags. I cannot change my nature and I find yet again that form does indeed follow function."
So we reached the end of the evening. Fleydon was scheduled to give a speech to the assembled masses from the balcony but a surfeit of tuna & sweetcorn sandwiches allied to copious amounts of red wine had rendered the artist insensate. Fortunately the members of the team who were present were approached and proved willing to provide improptu entertainment by displaying their league trophy and conducting a lively sing-along, not unlike Cliff Richards at a damp Centre Court. Fleydon later sent them his thanks to the players and a box of Quality Street by way of appreciation, a kind gesture much appreciated by the beneficiaries.
The Mayor, Players and Manager kindly step into the breech

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Appendix 7: 'Feel The Pain' - Comic Relief ' Mobbing' Uproar

Fleydon once again found himself in the middle of a media storm when the unveiling of his latest work "Feel the Pain - Grabbed by the Wombles" was hi-jacked on national television as part of a Comic Relief stunt. Unbeknown to the artist a well-known comedian and a controversial talk-show host had planned a 'Where's Wally?' inspired jape, secreting themselves at an important sporting event where they would gesticulate and grimace at every passing camera. Vast amounts of money were to be promised by frenzied viewers 'lucky' enough to spot them in a crowd. With an eye for publicity it was perhaps inevitable that the Tempest End was their chosen venue.
As the official photographer recorded the unveiling, comedian Peter Kaye leapt to his feet grimacing broadly. His companion, Jonathan Ross, slipped as he too tried to jump but was still able to raise an arm in triumph, treating those in the vicinity to a glimpse of his special 'JR' diamond-encrusted Rolex watch. Stewards were immediatly on hand to protect them from the fury of the dissapointed crowd and to usher the two gentlemen from the stadium. However the damage was already done and Fleydon was forced to retire to the newly erected First Aid hut for a dose of smelling salts and a brisk rub-down with some Hartleys Emulsified Muscle-Rub Emolioment .

It was some time before he was able to discuss the new work and in the meantime a corrected image was prepared 'erasing' the pranksters from the picture.
After overcoming his attack of 'flittering vapours' we asked Fleydon about his latest opus.

Q. 'Grabbed by the Wombles'? Surely we are looking at a poor pun here?
Less a pun really and more a reference. For Wimbledon supporters being 'grabbed by the wombles' has strong connotations. Most famously when Mr Jones met Mr Gascoigne. You can see immediately one the inspirations behind the canvas.
At first glance you could, possibly should, assume that the the message is an inspirational exhortation, reducing the imposition of pain (emotional or physical) as almost a duty, somthing to aspire to. Indeed the very format chosen is that of a motivational workplace poster.

The sort found in Human Resource centres, designed to inspire uninspired staff?
The very same strong black borders and white writing indeed. As a student of Freud, Jung and Shlipping I am fully aware that these choices are not (indeed cannot be) accidental. Nothing as blatant as certaintly here though for the essence of this work lies in its ambiguity.

Let me ask you a question for a change. Give you a chance to exercise those little grey cells. Who do you think the screaming head represents?

My assumption would be that it represents the pain and anguish of either a player or supporter of a team vanquished by AFC Wimbledon. Is this not the case?
Well of course it might be. Or it might not. That is the basis of the ambiguity. By referencing Mr Gascoigne above that is the interpretation I would expect of you, a mere critic, but consider my other inspiration. What it is that could turn a mild-mannered, gentle individual of temperate hue and pale complexion into an enpurpled and despairing caracature of himself, with veins like whip-cords and neck muscles bulging like a fistfull of walnuts in a Christmas stocking? I'll tell you what...the awarding of an obviously erronious 95th minute penalty to the opposition, that's what! This blatant injustice at our recent game at Weston-super-Mare wrought fearful changes on one particular individual in my vicinity, changes I refer to as 'The Dundonald Effect'. It showed just how deep and personal is the attachment to the club. That and the amount of time and effort the said individual invested in keeping the club financially solvent. Amazing and yet also slightly scary...

So the screaming individual depicted on the flag might just as easily be a Wimbledon supporter?
Exactly. When you support Wimbledon you sign up for the lot. Like a flagellant on the stations of the cross, you expect an emotional whipping along the way but like an addict you keep coming back for more. As I'm sure Mr Jones would put it, the when you're grabbed by the wombles you stay grabbed!
Ambiguity, pain, despair and the shriek of the addict who cannot be weaned from their drug of choice. Supporter or opponent it seems that AFC Wimbledon will put us all through the emotional wrangle at some point. Yet again, with his customary skill and genius, Fleydon proves himself once again modern arts 'master of the oblique'.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Fleydon & Time Out Magazine

Iggy Pop, then Dylan, now Fleydon... Has the artist known for his street-wise sensibilities finally sold out? Will exposure on London's premier arts and listings magazine, and on such a scale, go to his already polished and bulbous head? Can we expect his work to suddenly start appearing on hoardings, bus shelters and adverts? Will he finally follow the path of his estranged former flat-mate Salvador Dali and grab the bucks with both hands? Or is he engaged on a temporary 'consciousness raising exercise' before turning once again to his first love, the Tempest End on a Tuesday night in March for the first round of the London Senior Cup? Only time will tell - but be assured that the 'Art & Artist Review' will be there for every twist in this already convoluted tale...

Sunday, 15 February 2009

The Sam Hatton Commemorative Flag

The appearance of a new Fleydon flag is always cause for comment, but the recent unveiling of Sam's Missile at the Tempest End was a event tinged with a hint of confusion and a dab of anti-climax. Originally commissioned as part of the HardBack Dons Sam Hatton 21st Birthday Celebration Package its triumphal unveiling at the St Albans game was intended as the centrepiece of a days festivities that would have included fireworks, choral works and the distribution of alms to the deserving needy of St. Albans, the Hatton home town. However inclement weather caused havoc with the planning and both the game and the majority of the celebrations were abandoned.

The Hayes & Yeading evening game was not considered an appropriate occasion for the unveiling and it was felt that the disappointment of this decision led in part to Sam having one of his quieter games of the season.

The honour of the unveiling fell to Bath City and its eventual arrival was greeted with a near frenzy of excitement and a powerful surge, only narrowly restrained by the stewards, as Hatton well-wishers saught to obtain a first glimpse of the work. Radio WDON also picked up on the excitement, but their poor viewing position led to some confusing comments being broadcast to listeners around the globe with regard to both form and content, not unlike the confusion around the London 2012 Olmpic logo and Lisa Simpson.

Following the match we were able to snatch a few words with Fleydon about his latest opus:

A&AR: Fleydon, first of all congratulations on the result but I must say this is a bit of a departure for you isn't it?
Fleydon: I assume you refer to the lack of badge or AFC symbolism? Well as this was really a work celebrating an individual that seemed slightly superfluous and would have over-crowded an already visually rich work. But I should point out that it's an artistic departure in other ways as well, in as much as it celebrates a current player; employs a moody, atmospheric colour scheme (when I usually favour a bright, high visibility format) and is daring in its use of perspective and narrative comment. It really does make demands of the viewer.
A&AR: I must say when the word was out that you were working on commission for a birthday flag the expectation was that you would make some reference to the birthday itself. Obviously you considered that?
Fleydon: Of course, but I dismissed that almost immediately. I am an artist, not a Hallmark Cards Dedication Writer and I was determined to focus on aspects of Sam that were for ever, not just for a day. In light of his recent free-kick prowess that seemed a suitable area for artistic exploration.
A&AR: Sam's Missile? Is that a pun?
Fleydon: Less pun, more analogy. One strong memory I have from the news when growing up was the importance of SAM Missiles in modern warfare - SAM standing for Surface to Air Missile of course. Our campaign also relies to a degree on our own SAM missile, although we hope that it goes Surface to Air to Net I suppose, rather than touching orbit*
A&AR: So we are looking at the 'Target' goal from behind the net - a Tempest View as it were - and are observing the ball eluding the outstretched fingers of a baffled keeper. And what of the gun sight?
Fleydon: The gun sight represents Sam Hatton's mental processes when sizing up the ball. A complex mathematical process takes place within his brain which results in the perfect strike - occasionally. I can't do complex mental processes so I did a gun sight instead. Clever stuff eh? The work also has this dark and sombre feel to it. Foreboding and inevitable, these are the emotions of the opposing players and supporters when facing defeat by 'SAMAGEDDON'
A&AR: Some have commented on the interesting use of a graffiti typeface. Any reason for that?
Fleydon: Well Sam's quite a young man and I believe that graffiti is quite hip in certain areas. It shows defiance and an anti-establishment stance that goes well with his image of a swashbuckling, carefree ne'er do well, swaggering his way through games. And it made a bit of a change for me of course.
A&AR: Well we here at Art & Artists Review wish both you and Sammy Hatton the very best for the rest of the season and all the more success for Sam and his Mighty Missile.

*Wags who noted the orbital potential of Sam's first free kick of the game may well have made comments of the 'Sam's Miss-by-a- Mile' variety but should be aware that a strike ration of 1 in 5 is considered a decent return in most circles

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Fleydon in Perspective - Brazdon and 'Inverted Nationalism'

Brazilian Flag Mk. 1 "The Tea Towel" Picture by Woking John
No artist exists in a vacuum - they are shaped and influenced by their environment and their contemporaries. In the case of Fleydon this has included a number of other flag painters who have made their own marks on the contemporary vexilological scene. Some of these are bright sparks who flare brilliantly and are then extinguished - others have a more lasting effect. The Art & Artist Review has sought out some of these contemporaries in oder to trace their effects if any, on the works of Fleydon. In the first of these investigations we look at the work of Wagner the Brazilian whose work is noted for its use of colour and attention to detail

Fleydon gave us his own impression of his old artistic sparring partner "What impressed me about these works was the quality of work involved. They are old-school embroidered works, fantastic quality, the sort of craftsmanship that is all to rare these days. The inversion of national symbolism to reflect a local bias is of course one of the areas I explored in "DA's Army" and I think it true to say that although we had a common attitude to our works I was always slightly disapointed that Wagner never expanded his horizons and truly let his imagination fly! Limiting himself to reworkings of a single image would always lead to an imaginative impasse. But then some claim I'm just an intellectual butterfly wheras Wagner is more a rottweiler - when he works over an idea he never lets go! But sometimes it frustrates me- just think Carnival and hot women for example, how Wimbledon is that? Really those needlework skills still have a place in the Tempest End."
Brazillian Flag Mk.2 "Quarter Flag Picture by Woking John
In tune with our artistic credentials we then sent our guest artist a series of randomly selected questions of no special merit in the hope that we might catch him off-guard and elicit a revealing response. These are his unedited responses:


The original (a.k.a. Tea Towel as referred by some) saw its debut at the Surrey Senior Cup Final at Woking. That was the end of my first season as a Wimbledon Supporter back in May 2005.

The second (a.k.a. “In your face” or “I’m only just a quarter of the way there”) saw its debut in 2006 at the FA Cup away fixture to Exeter City.


Well, not too difficult to understand this one. I wanted something which would convey the messages of Brazilians who support Wimbledon. The original (and not inspiring) idea was to have horizontal stripes of blue, yellow and green, but the green just didn’t fit well with yellow and blue – EUREKA – replace the green with blue. Then again, no green, no message of the mighty forests of Brazil. That’s when it came to me: use the Brazilian Flag with Wimbledon colours. One must admit that the Brazilian Flag is almost universally recognised due to Brazil’s success in so many different sports or maybe because everyone knows that the Brazilian President has the honour to always make the opening speech at the United Nations General Assembly (well, that one may not be so universally known).

The second, or “quarter flag” derives itself from the number of dissing comments I had that the Mark I version of the flag was tantamount to a handkerchief or tea towel. I then proceeded to work on the new design, inspired by a t-shirt which was popular in the mid 80s in Brazil.


They are both sewn. The first, comprises of a piece of blue material, overlaid with a yellow diamond and then the blue circle. The second consists of 2 widths of blue material with the yellow strip and quarter circle sewn to it. That saved me a lot on costs. Can you tell my mum was a seamstress?


Not in my case. My message is pretty simple: Brazilian and Womble. In your case, you have no way of escaping. You speak through the medium of ensigns.


The small, probably Dustin Hoffman. Compact, yet full of meaning.

The large one, probably Marlon Brando. Bigger than it should have been.


Well, nothing negative. Just the usual mickey-taking. The first was too small and the second I ran out of material, apparently.


Well, that’s a bit of a sore subject. I had a bit of an emotional set back earlier this year and decided not to fly the flag anymore, wear a Club shirt or much else except attending the games. I intended to make a comeback for the recent match against Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup First Round. The Club asked supporters to register their intent to hang flags but I didn’t hear anything from them. Whether they were too busy to reply or didn’t want my flag to be there is something I’ll ask the Club when they are not so busy.


On the second time of hanging the large flag at our away fixture at Harrow Borough, the flag spent most of the game hanging at the wrong side of the wall due to the wind. I needed to get something to tie it down at the bottom.

I had to wash the same flag after it was completely soaked in beer at the Eastleigh away fixture in the FA Trophy. It was only its third time of use.

Not amusing but a steep learning curve.


I would probably work out a way to glue the layers and strips of material. Sewing is not for me.


Yep, another Brazilian style blue rectangle, with a yellow diamond and the AFC Wimbledon logo in the centre. I think it will look good.


It should convey your own message. I find the some of the pre-made flags with some sort of inscription on it rather uninspiring. Sorry but I think a flag should be about yourself and about your message.


I hope the players and management are inspired by the presence of the supporters, who follow them tirelessly to demonstrate their support. The flags are our way to tell them we are there, no matter what. I think that the flags are exclusively for them, not nearby supporters or staff.


I love my flags. My two children, who both support Wimbledon, love the flags. They were impressed by the number of hours I employed making them (they did say I was a bit over the top with the second one) but were keen to see the result.

Would I do it again? You bet.