Fight to save Gerry’s secret ‘Pompeii’
Stunning artwork created by talented pensioner could be removed by housing association
25 October, 2019 — By Helen Chapman
Gerald Dalton’s work features 350 sculptures, 170 wall mounts and a 50-metre long mural near his home
GERARD Dalton only let a handful of people know what he was keeping himself occupied with during his retirement.
The gardener and artist, who recently died aged 83, was working on a magical world behind closed doors to leave as a lasting legacy.
He had created a 50-metre long mural stretching along his canalside flat in Westbourne Park, and models of people, including figures such as Elizabeth I and Hercules.
He also made wooden models of places including Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace, as well as flats and offices.
He called it “Gerry’s Pompeii”.
Mr Dalton’s neighbours, Alison Sage and Nick Hall, allowed him to take over their garden wall for the mural.
Gardener and artist Mr Dalton died recently at the age of 83. Photo: Lily Bertrand-Webb
Residents and campaigners are now fighting to save the extraordinary creations before Mr Dalton’s housing association flat is cleared for new tenants.
Sasha Galitzine, a freelance curator, who is leading the campaign to keep the work, along with neighbours and Mr Dalton’s sister Kitty, said:
“He was a profound workman, very industrial.
“He would work in secret in the dead of the night and searched all over London for parts to use for his work.
“He said it kept him out of trouble.
“Only 10 people saw the inside of his flat in his lifetime.
“When I met him I tried to convince him he was an artist, but he only identified as a gardener.”
She added: “It’s almost like a museum he has left. He made everything for his own pleasure.
“Everyone who has been in the last month has been overwhelmed.
“He identified as a royalist and built models of the strongholds of aristocracy. But he would also monumentalise flats in the same way as palaces.”
Mr Dalton, who was a self-taught artist, moved to London from Ireland in his 20s. He worked as a parcel porter and as a factory worker.
Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is part of a group calling for the artwork to be saved. And the director of the Serpentine Galleries is believed to have visited the pieces this week.
Ms Galitzine, who lives in Notting Hill, has been organising visits to Mr Dalton’s home for people to see the work.
She added: “We want to work with the community and neighbours, and make sure nothing would be done without their say.”
Genesis Housing, who will reclaim the property on October 31, said in a statement: “The death of Gerry was very sad, but his memory lives on in the inspiring and extraordinary artwork he has left for his family and friends. We are giving as much support as we can to protect his legacy and encourage his friends, as well as art lovers who have so admired his work, to ensure it is looked after and available for people to see and appreciate in the future.
“But we are a housing association and our priority has to be providing a home to a family that needs one. This is an area of huge housing demand and we must enable another family to enjoy the safety and security of social housing.”