Ron's Place, a Secret Hideaway Transformed into an Olympian Palace, Becomes First Listed Outsider Art in England.

Remarkable Ron's Place in Birkenhead Becomes First Nationally Listed Example of Outsider Art

Birkenhead, England - The remarkable Ron's Place in Birkenhead has been awarded Grade II listed status by Historic England, following support from the influential C20 Society. This recognition marks a significant moment for outsider art in England.

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Ron's Place, a Secret Hideaway Transformed into an Olympian Palace, Becomes First Listed Outsider Art in England. 1

Created by the late artist Ron Gittins between 1986 and 2019, Ron's Place is a unique artistic creation housed within a rented flat. Gittins meticulously transformed the modest space into a fantastical world inspired by Ancient Rome and Greece. The transformed flat features creatures from Greek mythology and murals depicting scenes reminiscent of the Roman era.

The news was met with joy by musician Jarvis Cocker, who played a crucial role in preserving the flat after Gittins' death in 2019. Cocker, who organized a fundraising event, stated, "Ron's Place has been given listed status! The work of one unique gentleman... has been recognised nationally."

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Ron's Place, a Secret Hideaway Transformed into an Olympian Palace, Becomes First Listed Outsider Art in England. 2

Sarah Charlesworth, a representative from Historic England, commended Gittins' vision and the community's dedication to preserving his work. "The extent to which Ron's creations have inspired action... demonstrates the value of this remarkable project," she said.

Born in Birkenhead in 1939, Gittins was known for his artistic pursuits and eccentric costumes. His creative journey began in his childhood bedroom, but the full extent of his vision was only revealed after his passing.

The once-ordinary ground-floor flat became a canvas for Gittins' imagination. Fireplaces were transformed into giant mythological creatures while walls echoed the vibrant colours of Pompeii, a city that inspired him during his youth. A fiercely private individual, Gittins rarely allowed visitors into his personal sanctuary.

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Ron's Place, a Secret Hideaway Transformed into an Olympian Palace, Becomes First Listed Outsider Art in England. 3

Gittins' niece, Jan Williams, became a driving force in preserving his legacy. She now chairs the Wirral Arts & Culture Community Land Trust, established to save the flat. The trust's efforts faced a hurdle when the building was put up for sale in 2022. Fortunately, the Muller Wimhurst Trust, known for saving another artistic masterpiece, stepped in with a loan to secure the purchase.

Catherine Croft, director of the 20th Century Society, does not underestimate the importance of Ron's Place. "This is 20th-century heritage unlike any other," she states, highlighting its status as the first nationally listed example of Outsider Art in England.

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Ron's Place, a Secret Hideaway Transformed into an Olympian Palace, Becomes First Listed Outsider Art in England. 4

Looking beyond its eccentricity, the trust organizes visits for local mental and physical health organizations. They plan to continue such initiatives, aiming to inspire creativity and well-being through artistic expression.

A poignant detail emerged while Williams sorted through her uncle's belongings. She found a postcard from Gittins expressing his eagerness to show her his work. Tragically, the card was never delivered.

"I believe Ron would be thrilled," Williams said, reflecting on the recognition his work is receiving.

She concluded with a touch of humour, acknowledging the unconventional nature of Gittins' creation, "He only kept it secret because you're not really supposed to turn your rented flat into a Roman villa, are you?"

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