19 May 2014

The Strange Art of Kevin Duffy, Ashton-in-Makerfield

On Rectory Road in North Ashton – near Ashton-in-Makerfield  is the Rectory Garden Centre, which is unlike any other garden centre. Of course, it sells the usual compost, flowers and plants and so on, but owner Kevin Duffy has also spent over thirty years creating – always using reclaimed or donated materials – the most bizarre objects within these grounds. The sign above is the entrance to a few rooms with an odd assortment of things, and is not actually part of Kevin Duffy's 'village' itself.

Here, though, as in the village, we can find such incongruous – almost surreal – combinations as 'Al's dancing fish' resting on an old radio. As with the rest of this post, often I leave an image without comment, sometimes because it speaks for itself, but more often because I'm (for once) left speechless. Duffy's art has that effect.

And so to the pièce de résistance: the village itself, which at an admission charge of 75 pence must be very difficult to beat for value.

The blue bust of Bill stands at the entrance.

The village local, with paraphernalia from other pubs.

Inside, a rather sinister looking landlord.*

And the clientele.

This building is called 'All Faiths Church', although it began life as a potting shed. Note the 'Peace Tree' covered in post-its.

This was created in memory of Duffy's German shepherd dog (or Alsatian) Shona, who died at eleven years and three months. 

Another sinister looking character lurks inside the entrance on the left.


This is indeed the original gravestone of William Stopford's donkey, which initially stood behind the Alison Arms in Appley Bridge. Stopford lived next to the pub.

The sign in front of this car proclaims that it was proudly owned by Kevin Duffy. It's a 1961 Ford Popular and was his first. Furthermore, that's the original colour and it was running until 2004.

A Chef le Normand L'École de Cuisine de Saint-Aubert clockface.

And a Château Jourdain (Bordeaux) clockface.

The sign in front of the woman here labels her 'Elizabeth Bennett', and I'm pretty certain that this must be a representation of Elizabeth Benet from Pride and Prejudice, because:

At the side of her is Mr Darcy.

The Rectory Garden Centre is a truly remarkable place and well worth going out of the way to visit.

*This model appears to have been sold to Halloween fan Conor Pilkington, from Gateshead (Tyne and Wear), who has spent £5000 this year on the interior and the exterior of his house. (Written 31 October 2020.)

Art brut (Outsider Art) and associated:
Rémy Callot, Carvin (Nord)
Carine Fol (ed.): L'Art brut en question | Outsider Art in Question
Kevin Duffy, Ashton-in-Makerfield
The Art Brut of Léopold Truc, Cabrières d'Avignon (34)
Le Musée Extraordinaire de Georges Mazoyer, Ansouis (34)
Le Facteur Cheval's Palais Idéal, Hauterives (26)
The Little Chapel, Guernsey
Museum of Appalachia, Norris, Clinton, Tennessee
Ed Leedskalnin in Homestead, Florida
La Fabuloserie, Dicy, Yonne (89)
Street Art City, Lurcy-Lévis, Allier (03)
The Outsider Art of Jean Linard, Neuvy-deux-Clochers (18)
Jean Bertholle, La Fabuloserie, Yonne (89)
Jean-Pierre Schetz, La Fabuloserie, Yonne (89)
Jules Damloup, La Fabuloserie, Yonne (89)
Camille Vidal, La Fabuloserie, Yonne (89)
Pascal Verbena, La Fabuloserie, Yonne (89)
The Art of Theodore Major
Edward Gorey's Yarmouth Port, Cape Cod, MA
Marcel Vinsard in Pontcharra, Isère (38)
Vincent Capt: Écrivainer : La langue morcelée de Samuel Daiber
The Amazing World of Danielle Jacqui, Roquevaire (13)
Alphonse Gurlie, Maisonneuve (07)
Univers du poète ferrailleur, Lizio, Morbihan
Les Rochers sculptés de L'Abbé Fouré, Rothéneuf, Saint-Malo
Robert Tatin in Cossé-le-Vivien, Mayenne
La Demeure du Chaos, Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d'Or, Rhône (69)
René Raoul's Jardin de pierre in Pléhédel, Côtes d'Armor
Emmanuel Arredondo in Varennes Vauzelles, Nièvre (58)
Musée de la Luna Rossa (revisited), Caen, Calvados (14)
La Fontaine de Château-Chinon, Nièvre (58)


David Bingham said...

75p is an extremely modest entrance fee for so many years of dedicated work. It always seems odd that there isn't more of this sort of outsider installation in the UK - we pride ourselves on our eccentricity after all - but it seems to be, in relative terms, much more common in France or Belgium.

Dr Tony Shaw said...

And most of that 75p, if they can manage it, goes to charity: they are really bucking the exploitation norm here.

I think the UK eccentricity thing is something of a myth although I certainly see France (to some extent at least) as a nation of outsiders. Then there's the US, where outsider art is quite big too: but this is no doubt to a large extent due to the sheer number of people in the US as opposed to France and the UK, along of course with the size of the place: land is not in short supply in the US.

David Bingham said...

I think land values have a lot to do with it and local officialdom - you'd need to be quite rich if you fancied building something on the scale of Le Palais ideal or the Watt's Towers in the UK. And someone from the council would tell you to take it down because you don't have planning permission.

I went to see this last year:
No one can stop you doing what you want in your own house!

Dr Tony Shaw said...

I'd forgotten all about Khadambi Asalache's 575 Wandsworth Road. This is a must and reminds me (very slightly) of Loti's house in Rochefort. Here too, I'm sure, no photography is allowed.

Hauterives has been high on my future list for a few years, but it's difficult to work into an itinerary because it's relatively so remote: I've never been to Lyon, but it's never appealed. I suspect that Cheval's creation isn't widely known in England, in spite of Jarvis Cocker's efforts to make places like these more widely known.