Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Ivor Cutler

I've been meaning to upload this tribute to Ivor Cutler on the first anniversary of his death for a while now but have been too ill to get it together. I just found this old piece of mail from him whilst rummaging through me drawers. Also there was a postcard from Allan Bennett ( what a name dropper eh?) after we'd sent him a fan letter and postcard of one of my pig paintings. Alan writes " ....I like Sam's Pig - I can tell it's not by the other Mike Leigh!"

So anyway, our friendship with Ivor was very short and sweet. I think Hazel had this cabinet show of her "TEA LEAF COLLECTION" in the Royal Festival Hall in 1991 and Ivor saw it and bought some "Tea Leaf Badges" as he always wore a few on his cap or lapel. Later we wrote to thank him and he invited us over for tea and cakes which was a surprise. Needless to say we jumped at the chance and found ourselves on the steps of a large virctorian building in North London somewhere and no answer when we rang the bell. We almost went home deciding it must be a joke or we'd go the wrong day or something when Ivor tured up on a big wobbly bike festooned with bags. It seems he's been to the bakery to get some cakes and was "caught" by someone wanting a chat. Anyway to cut a long story short we had a nice time and it was fascinating to see where he lived and he even played us a tune on his wheezy harmonium. Looking back you wonder why we never took a camera or recorder to capture this very special moment but we didn't.

A few weeks later we invited Ivor over to our pokey flat in South London and he duly arrived and after tea and cake he gave Hazel a Breathing Lesson and left her a sheet of A4 with instructions on how to do it! I wish i knew where it was? Its around here somewhere. Also he looked at all the artworks and collages I was making and phoned up Walker Books to try and get us both roped in on the comic called SNAP! they were doing at the time . He said " Folk were good to me when i was just starting out so I like to help when I can." or words to that effect.

Anyway, through Ivor's kind introduction I got a couple of illustration jobs at Walker Books until sadly the comic folded a few months later.

So there you have it in a nutshell. A few weeks later we found out that Archie was on the way and we told Ivor the good news and he very abruptly said he wished us well with family life and he understood if we had no time for our friendship as we'd be busy bringing up a baby! Nothing could be further from the truth we said but Ivor became very insistant that we'd be better off without his friendship which was quite shock at the time and I felt quite hurt by it.

Now the baby is a teenager and the strange and multi-faceted poet has gone. We treasure all these little things he left us and still listen to his music and stories. He was certainly a "one-off" and much missed.

O yes, Ivor told me I spelt "friend" by remembering this image - a man sitting in a frying pan on a hot stove - fry-end!


asmallprincess said...

What a lovely story...I bet the cakes were good!

Odd that he should imagine a baby could stop you having friends - eek!

wastedpapiers said...

I dont remember the cakes but it was an amazing experiance. A lovely but strange man who obviously didn't want to upset the fragile equilibrium of "family" life. Having a baby does change your perspectives quite bit Adele so look out for that! The baby becomes quite central to your life for quite while - well, Archie did for us and I can only speak from personal experiance.

In a way now I can see why Ivor severed contact with us. I wrote to him a few times- just postcards and exhibition invites etc. but even these were rejected. We got a curt note saying "No More Correspondence , I am 79 years old!"

I had it made into some stickers at Able label ( his favourite sticker supplier) and sent them to him to use on his mail. I never heard if he did or not!

wastedpapiers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Buzzard said...

Hi. I knew Ivor quite well during his later years. In the last dew years before he died, he suffered from Alzheimers (or something similar) and didn't recognise people who were very close friends. I've heard a similar story to yours from someone else. I think this must have been wrapped up in his condition. I suspect he may well have reaslised what was happening.

harci said...

Snap! was a good comic, and I remain genuinely impressed that they got Ivor Cutler in to do those doodles, even though I couldn't make head or tail of them at the time (the one I remember best simply read "She sharpened her pencil with a raisin").

wastedpapiers said...

Thanks all. Sorry Blogger comments are up the creek again!

Ivor was in his own words " a kind of stupid genius" and unique. Sad that he is no longer around. We were very priveledged? to have known him for that short time. We treasure all the things he sent us.