Both Richard Hamilton and Chris Ofili have major retrospectives on display here in The UK at the moment. Even though I have socialised with them both, I could only describe the later as a friend. Although when it comes to my often farcical life stories they do share one thing in common. They have both given me artworks, and equally I have lost both said artefacts.
A. I often had late night drinks with Richard in the Marathon Bar in Camden. The first few times I meet him, I kept on insisting he was the famous painter of the Hunger series – gritty paintings of H block hunger strikes. He on the other hand insisted he was a painter and decorator from Chalk Farm, eventually the truth was revealed one evening, when we got round to discussing Francis Bacons belongings being cleared from a house in Hampstead ? Anyway on this particular evening we played a game of finishing each others sketches on Napkins. I would draw a section then he would add a bit, then pass it back and so on and so forth. We did this for hours and I accumulated 2 of the 5 or more Napkins (Richard kept the others)…………..To cut a long story short, when I surfaced from the bar early that morning, I was a bit worse for wear. and in my drunken state when the urge took me to blow my nose, I didn’t consider the value of the sketches, rather the purpose of the tissues…..safe to say the biro ink did not survive my snot !
*Richard Hamilton coined the phrase POP ART…….. “Pop art,” he wrote, “is Popular (designed for a mass audience), Transient (short-term solution), Expendable (easily forgotten), Low Cost, Mass Produced, Young (aimed at youth), Wicked, Sexy, Gimmicky, Glamorous, Big Business.”
B. In Chris’s case the story is equally ridiculous, I attended a BBQ at Chris’s old studio’s by the Thames, I think it was before he made the move to Kings Cross, after a sunny day drinking and eating, and helping Chris clear out his space and load things into skips etc…… Chris gave me an Afro head painting on a small block of wood. As ridiculous as it now sounds, I declined the offer and said I would get it at a later date, because all I had on was a pair of Board shorts with no pockets and a t-shirt……… and I didn’t want to carry anything ! It was just Chris I wasn’t supposed to know he would go on to win the Turner Prize, and become a millionaire art super star !
I’ve reminded him of this story on countless occasions, but to no avail. Not even after I introduced him to my cousin Joy the subject of ‘No Woman, No Cry’.
I wish I could say there was a moral to these tales, but I doubt I’d do anything differently if the chance came my way again.