Campaign to save deceased Irish artist’s life’s work

The late Gerry Dalton from Westmeath

By David Hennessy

Art bosses have launched a campaign to save the art work of Irish immigrant Gerry Dalton. It was only when Gerry passed away in September this year that it was discovered he had turned his flat and garden in Westbourne Park into a secret kingdom compromising miniature concrete models of well-known buildings and historical figures.

Gerry Dalton, a retired parcel porter and factory worker, built the secret kingdom over several years and is now being hailed an outsider artist by big names in the art world.

However, the housing association want to rehome another family in the property, meaning the collection would be removed. Now a campaign has been launched to try to save Gerry’s work by any means necessary even if this means raising enough cash from donations to buy the property.

Born to a farming family near Athlone in 1935, Dalton said that he grew up without “much education really”. Although he was fascinated with history, there were little opportunities for education and he worked as a handyman for a rich, retired British colonel with a taste for landscape gardening.

Gerry would then come to London in 1959 in his early twenties. He first worked in railway sorting offices, then took a series of catering jobs around the city. It was in 1983 that Gerry moved into the flat he would remain at until his death.

Whether he was always working on his creations, nobody knows but it was after his retirement in the 1990s that something sparked him to begin producing his art at a prodigious rate. He devoted himself to turning his garden into a personal museum. He created as many as 115 sculptures of British, Irish and European historical figures until his home became what some are describing as a decorative masterpiece.

He was an incredibly shy man and apart from his close friends, his project remained a secret for thirty years.

Dalton once said to his neighbour and friend Roc Sandford: “They’ll be astonished by what they’ll find in my garden in years to come. It’ll be like Pompeii or something – Gerry’s Pompeii.”

Genesis Housing will reclaim this property by October 31st and we are therefore placing an urgent call to action to preserve this local, and national treasure.

Property managers Notting Hill Genesis said: ”We will continue to speak to Gerry’s family and the wider community over the future of this amazing collection.”

Jarvis Cocker of the band Pulp said of the collection: “A very important place! There is no other environment of this size and quality in the U.K.”

Sir Charles Saumarez Smith CBE said: “It’s a folk version of the National Portrait Gallery.”

Swiss art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist said: “An extraordinary Gesamtkunstwerk (a work of art that makes use of all or many art forms), it is a total work of art. It shows Gerry as a gardener, as an artist, as a historian, as an archeologist. This is an incredible ensemble and it has to be preserved as it is – and it’s urgent.”

There is an online petition here.

There is a crowdfunding campaign at here.

For more information, you can go to the website.

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