He reminded me of someone from a different era – like that early ‘70s art scene that permeated my childhood, the one with bearded men and batik throws. It was as if he had been plucked from that setting and that time and placed in the present without having traversed the interim years. Wild black hair, second-hand velvet jacket, the huge rubber plant in the flat, chipped stoneware bowls, Leonard Cohen and Frank Zappa on C90s. Thirty years' worth or more of magazines, mostly already cut-up ready for use, on every available surface. The smell of paint mingling with the smell of mildew and recently baked herring. And his art everywhere, on every wall and piled up on the floor: works in progress, finished pieces, huge canvasses, boxed constructions from reclaimed household objects, book-like collaged miniatures, pertinent words scrawled in inky black spidery script. He taught me about the artists he loved and who inspired him - Kurt Schwitters and Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and Duchamp – well, so much Art. He always spelled Art with a capital A. He said it with one too. I'll be honest - he frustrated me at times, his life was messy, his choices often unwise, but friendship endured.
Well, it would have been his 58th birthday today. Sadly he was the second of two of my friends who died last year, and his death was most unexpected, so it still feels a little unreal.
But I don’t want this to be a sad post, there is enough misery in the world and I need to keep myself upbeat.
Instead I’ll celebrate his birthday by sharing some of his work, now hanging on new walls in different homes. Isn't this the lovely thing about Art? - it lives on.