An unassuming property in Oxton is, on closer inspection, unique and like no other property.
From the outside, it simply looks like a typical, sturdy, Victorian semi-detached house of which there are many examples in the area.
But step inside and you are confronted by a roaring lion fireplace and frescos depicting Egyptian and Roman scenes.
This house is like no other.
For 33 years until his death in 2019 aged 79, Ron Gittins obsessively painted walls, ceilings and floors of his rented flat, creating an idiosyncratic living monument to his passion for ancient history. Ron also sculpted four massive concrete fireplaces, most notably, one in the form a roaring lion’s head and another in the form of a minotaur.
Much of the work was completed in secret and it was not until after Ron’s death that the full extent of his creativity was discovered.
Heswall born and Meols raised Andy McCluskey, lead singer of electronic music pioneers Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) said, “It’s one man’s remarkable vision of the space and the environment he’s created for himself. I mean, you couldn’t get more idiosyncratic than having a giant lion fireplace! I’d be hugely sad to see it go.”
Contemporary artist, Grayson Perry, said, “This looks like a rare cultural gem let’s hope it is saved.”
When Pulp frontman, Jarvis Cocker visited Ron’s flat, he said, “I think that’s one of the things that attracts me to outsider art: you feel like you’re seeing art in a purer, more primal form. An environment takes it to a different level.
“There’s a complete, 100% commitment to whatever vision they’ve got, because they’re sleeping it; they’re eating in it. And that’s quite a thing to behold.”
“With environments like these, you get a complete work of art that somebody is living in and that they’ve established the rules. It’s like a personal universe”.
The house is set to be auctioned by Smith and Sons on 1 March with an estimate of £325,000 – £350,000, The listing on Smith and Sons website includes the information that, “The ground floor flat was known as Ron’s Place which has generated local and national interest due to the extensive artwork, sculptures and mouldings created therein, many of which remain. Planning permission has been granted for a three-storey rear extension to enclose and rebuild the staircase giving access to the three upper-floor flats.”
Chris Johnson FRICS, Auctioneer and Valuation Surveyor at Smith and Sons told birkenhead.news, “There has been a good deal of local interest in the auction of this substantial house in Oxton Village, the ground floor of which has become known as ‘Rons Place’. Occupied by a Wirral artist, the flat is full of paintings, sculptures and murals and is something I have not seen in over 50 years in the property market.
“The house is currently in four flats but would alternatively be ideal to return to a lovely six-bedroomed family home. Viewings will continue until the auction next Wednesday.”
Ron’s art is considered Outsider art, which is art made by self-taught or supposedly naïve artists with typically little or no contact with the conventions of the art world. In many cases, their work is discovered only after their deaths. Often, outsider art illustrates extreme mental states, unconventional ideas, or elaborate fantasy worlds.
Images: Smith and Sons Property Consultants