Saving Ron’s Place

In a red room a large lion made from concrete extends out of what would be a fireplace. Around the room there are all sorts of bits of art.

On a quiet street in Oxton, Wirral, there’s a house previously rented by Ron Gittins. Almost every surface has been painted or reworked into a piece of art. Hieroglyphs above the picture rails. Portraits of people painted right onto the walls. Murals on the ceilings. Papier-mâché torsos. A concrete lion the size of a fireplace instead of, a fireplace. Everywhere you look there is a creation by Ron. It is mind-blowing. Ron kept anything and everything to use it for making art.

Sadly in 2019 Ron died. Jan Williams, from the wonderful Caravan Gallery, has been looking after Ron’s Place for the past few years. Every day she’s been finding new artworks, notes and objects made by Ron. It’s seemingly endless.

Jan and Chris stand beside an empty chair surrounded by papier-mache bodies with artwork covering the walls.
Jan and Chris stand next to an empty chair in Ron’s living room.

I was lucky enough to visit Ron’s Place to see it for myself. I’ve been following the project on social media but the photos did not prepare me for the reality of it. It’s a house, except it’s not a house. It’s a single idea, except it’s thousands of single ideas. A museum to someone who absolutely needed to create. Speaking with Jan I saw myself in Ron. He might have been autistic and creating this work was him hyper focusing on a project. The sheer number of projects could be ADHD. We’ll never know for sure but I can certainly see myself or neurodivergence in the house. What could Ron have achieved if he had backing?

As I stood in the physical space, in what felt like Ron’s mind, I pondered its importance. How many people are there out there like Ron with a passion, a need, to create? How many people have the energy of Ron but no place to put it? There must be loads. With the right backing Ron’s Place could be a space for this discussion. The work is a discussion on mental health, accessibility in the arts, the absolute need to create, and why being different should be embraced. You can’t have these rich discussions from photos. It needs to be at the space. The physicality of it, the sensory aspects are part of the conversation.

In a room with pink walls there are 3 paintings, frames included, painted directly onto the walls. The fireplace has been remodelled to have fish at the bottom.

Unfortunately the house goes to auction on Wednesday. This could all be lost and replaced with a generic house, or worse… student apartments. The work needs to be saved. It may never make money and we may never see the outcome of the work, but it needs to exist for people to explore. We gave up going to the moon because the money wasn’t there but we absolutely must explore the universe. How many things came out of the space race simply because the program existed? How many ideas were generated that went on to inspire new ideas in others that created something no-one expected? I’m writing this on a platform initially designed at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research. The World Wide Web exists because of ideas generated at a Nuclear Research lab. They weren’t researching how to create hypertext document linking and yet here we are today.

Different ideas push people into different places. I hope Ron’s Place can be saved.

If you can, please donate or share the project.