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Flat is occupied in bid to protect ‘Gerry’s Pompeii’ artwork

Stephen Fry backs protest over secret artist who created stunning pieces before recent death

08 November, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

The protest outside Mr Dalton’s former home on Friday night

CAMPAIGNERS occupying a housing association flat are demanding that artwork of “international significance” by a man who lived there is protected.

Hundreds of sculptures have been left inside the property in Westbourne Park, following the recent death of Gerard Dalton, while a 50-metre mural has been created outside.

“Gerry’s Pompeii” includes Mr Dalton’s models of royal palaces and figures of people including Oliver Cromwell and Princess Sophia.

Genesis Housing say they must take the flat back to be let to a new tenant but a campaign is underway to preserve Mr Dalton’s work.

The campaign group want to raise £550,000 to buy the property and QI presenter Stephen Fry is among those backing them, donating £1,000 on Wednesday.

A notice on the property proclaiming the importance of his artwork

A notice on the door reads: “This property is occupied as a community landmark of international artistic significance. Nobody is living in this property.”

On Friday supporters of Gerry’s Pompeii, which is near the Regent’s Canal waters, held a protest outside the flat dressed as grey and white statues.

Cllr Adam Hug, Labour group leader at Westminster Council, said: “We understand the pressures of social housing in Westminster but we hope there will be an opportunity to open it up to the wider community so many people in the future can benefit.”

Maida Vale Labour councillor, Geoff Barraclough, said at the protest: “We are asking for three months for Genesis and the community to explore options.”

Gerard Dalton

Mr Dalton, who identified himself as a gardener rather than an artist, retired 30 years ago, but only a handful of people are said to have been let into his home as he created the pieces.

Mr Dalton’s neighbour of nearly 10 years, said at the protest: “I would say hello to him in the road. I visited the flat three or four years ago to have a cup of tea. I was absolutely amazed as to what I saw.”

Another neighbour said last Friday: “We are all well aware there is a desperate need for social housing but this is an exceptional situation. What Gerry’s art could give to people living in social housing will be long lasting. It will reach thousands of people.”

Some of the sculptures and wall mounts that make up ‘Gerry’s Pompeii’

A Notting Hill Genesis spokesperson said: “Gerry’s death 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 people who need one. Gerry’s former home is in an area of huge housing demand and we must enable others to enjoy the safety and security of social housing.

“We extended our original deadline to give Gerry’s friends and supporters as much time as possible to identify a solution.

“As that hasn’t proved possible, we now need to find the best way to ensure that we can offer the home to a new tenant and that Gerry’s collection is looked after somewhere else.

“We will continue to speak to Gerry’s family and the wider community over the future of this amazing collection.”

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