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Music stars back bid to save ‘Gerry’s Pompeii’

Jarvis Cocker and Paloma Faith support campaign to preserve ‘extraordinary’ work created by secret artist

01 November, 2019 — By Helen Chapman

Gerard Dalton, who died recently aged 83

A DEMONSTRATION has been called with just days to go to save an “extraordinary” 30-year project by a clandestine artist.

Campaigners will protest outside the home of Gerard Dalton, who died recently aged 83, in Westbourne Park today (Friday).

Mr Dalton left behind an “extraordinary” body of work he created in his home called “Gerry’s Pompeii”.

Featuring dozens of models of famous buildings and statues of aristocracy and royalty, the campaign to save it has been backed leading curators and musicians including Jarvis Cocker, Paloma Faith, V&A boss Tristram Hunt, Arts Council chief Sir Nicholas Serota and art historian Sir Charles Saumarez Smith.

Social housing landlords Notting Hill Genesis are looking to take back the keys to Mr Dalton’s property on Monday and there are fears that his project could lose its special appeal if moved to an alternative venue.

Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker

Sasha Galitzine, 30, leading the campaign, said: “Every group that has been round, local residents, curators, are calling to keep it here and make it a socially cohesive space. It could be used for the community. Any decision that is taken will be done in co-ordination with neighbours and people in the community.”

Mr Dalton came from a family of farmers in Ireland and worked as a gardener and as a postal porter at night. When his wife died 30 years ago he embarked on a project that he called “Gerry’s Pompeii”.

Campaigners and curators have been calling for a three-month stay of execution to find the artwork a home.

The ground-floor flat in Westbourne Park consists of two rooms, a kitchen and bathroom all covered in Mr Dalton’s work including models of Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.

In the garden he built statues of composers, military figures and royalty.

“They were all people who he said had done something for the country,” said Ms Galitzine. “No one saw him making them. It must have been in the night.”

Some of the work created by Mr Dalton

Ms Galitzine has been working with Mr Dalton’s family to galvanise support among people in the art world. She has given tours to over 400 people. Mr Dalton’s neighbour Isaac would go with Mr Dalton looking around London for materials for his work.

“He was so specific and would refuse to compromise,” said Ms Galitzine. “He would go in one shop looking for specific tiles and if they didn’t have the right tiles with the right measurements he would walk out.”

Next-door neighbour Connie was handing out banana bread to visitors of Gerry’s Pompeii over the garden wall when the Extra visited on Wednesday.

Mr Dalton was known to send postcards to his neighbours and got on well with people living in the street.

Neighbours Alison Sage and Nick Hall had allowed him to take over land in their garden leading onto the canal to make a mural.

“He was obsessed with Princess Sophia who is buried in Kensal Green cemetery,” said Ms Galitzine. “He liked to visit there. He said it didn’t feel like being in London.”

Niklas Gustafon and Sasha Galitzine

Gerry’s funeral took place last month in Kensal Green.

A Notting Hill Genesis statement said: “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.

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

Protesters are due to meet today (Friday) at 5.30pm in Meanwhile Gardens, Kensal

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