‘Ron’s Place’ saved by mystery benefactor

After a 33-year transformation by artist Ron Gittins, a flat in Oxton filled with a range of fascinating art has been purchased following a campaign to preserve it.

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 of 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.

When the property was put up for auction, there were concerns that Ron’s unique work would be lost forever. However, an anonymous benefactor stepped up and bought the property at auction to save the artwork.

The Saving Ron’s Place group revealed that the mystery donor had loaned the necessary £335,000.

The loan is expected to become a gift, enabling the property to be managed as a charity aimed at promoting art and raising awareness of mental health issues.

Local filmmaker Martin Wallace became involved with the campaign to save Ron’s Place after reading about the property in the local press.

Martin directed a groundbreaking Channel 4 series in 1998 called ‘Journeys Into The Outside with Jarvis Cocker‘, in which Jarvis Cocker travelled the globe exploring Outsider Art.

Martin only found out this morning that the benefactor would provide financial backing to secure the future of the property. Martin told birkenhead.news that it was “fantastic” news and that after a month or so of toing-and-froing with solicitors’ paperwork and some urgent repair work to the property, they hope to have the project up and running as soon as possible.

Christopher Lee-Power attended Withens Lane Collage in Wallasey at the same time as Ron. He said, “Our paths crossed at Withens Lane College 36 years ago, and I am forever grateful for the impact Ron had on my life. His flat was the crown jewel of his artistic legacy, a true wonderland of imagination and creativity.

“Ron may be gone, but his memory lives on in the magic he created. As a young person struggling with disabilities, he mentored and guided me, helping me find my voice and my passion for drama and art. I owe him everything.”

Chris Johnson, Auctioneer at Smith and Sons commented, “Ron’s Place was inevitably the most talked about lot in the auction, attracting extensive media coverage from local and international press. Ron Gittins had passed in 2019 and his home, along with other apartments in the building, was owned by the landlord who eventually decided to sell the property using the auction room for a transparent and straightforward sale.

“We were really pleased to see Ron’s Place saved when an anonymous benefactor stepped in to help make the purchase happen and retain the building and it’s amazing content. The building sold for £335,000 against an original guide of £325,000 – £350,000.

“Bringing properties to auction focuses the mind and brings a sense of urgency which is often helpful to both buyers and sellers. This was definitely the case here and we’re pleased supporters and campaigners were able to save this property, showcase this important work and utilise the rest of the building.”

Image: Smith and Sons

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