Ron’s Place is the first ‘Outsider Art’ environment to be listed in the UK

We have some incredibly exciting news to announce: Ron’s Place has become the first Outsider Art environment to be listed in the UK.

Over the past few days, we have been taking local and national media for tours of his extraordinary ground floor flat in preparation for today’s announcement.

As followers of this website will remember, we welcomed Historic England’s advisory committee to Oxton in January, and they were so delighted by the space that they recommended it to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for Grade II listing due to its status as “an exemplar of large-scale Outsider Art”.

Ron’s Place is currently closed to the public while essential restoration works are being carried out. However, we will soon be sharing details of some offsite arts and heritage projects and exhibitions.

Filmmaker Martin Wallace, who was instrumental in getting the building listed as a former trustee of Wirral Arts and Cultural Community Land Trust, says: “To visit Ron’s Place is a rare and strangely beautiful immersive experience. I’ve spent time in many ‘outsider art’ environments around the globe and Ron’s Place ranks with the best of them. But its real potential lies beyond its idiosyncratic appeal.

“Experiencing Ron’s Place can be an inspiration towards transformative improvements in wellbeing through creative activity for all kinds of people, from all walks of life, young and old. It’s fantastic that Historic England has recognised the unique value and potential of Ron’s Place and chosen to ensure it must now be properly protected for generations to come.”

And what would Ron himself have made of all this attention?

Jan Williams, Ron’s niece, WACCLT board member and half of artist duo The Caravan gallery, has a guess: “I believe Ron would be made up and very proud at all the attention he’s receiving, and thrilled his work is being recognised and appreciated –  he only kept it secret because you’re not really supposed to turn your rented flat into a Roman villa complete with epic concrete fireplaces are you?

 “When I was sorting through Ron’s possessions following his death I discovered an incorrectly addressed postcard he’d tried to send me. He said he couldn’t wait to show me what he’d been working on next time I was home.

 “I feel sad to have missed out on so much of my Uncle Ron’s complicated but intriguing story in the past but it’s good to know his creativity will inspire future generations.”

Laura Davis, WACCLT trustee, April 5 2024.

Here are some of the amazing responses to the news:

Sarah Charlesworth, Listing Team Leader North at Historic England:

Ron’s Place is testament to the unique artistic achievements and vision of Ron Gittins over four decades. The extent to which Ron’s creations have inspired action from people in the local area to raise funds to purchase the building and secure the survival of his legacy demonstrates the value of this remarkable project and why it has earned its place on the National Heritage List for England.

Jarvis Cocker, Pulp frontman and Ron’s House Patron:

A small number of people on this planet have known for a while that Ron’s Place is a very Special Place – but from now on it is official: Ron’s Place has been given listed status!

The work of one unique gentleman in the north of England has been recognised nationally. Globally even.

Hallelujah !!

Twentieth Century Society Director, Catherine Croft:

This is twentieth century heritage unlike any other, the first example of Outsider Art to be nationally listed.

At Ron’s Place, one man’s extraordinary creative vision summoned creatures from Greek mythology and the architecture of ancient Roman to a humble ground-floor flat in Birkenhead. Proof, if needed, that great art isn’t confined just to established galleries and collections.

It’s also great news that the Wirral Arts and Culture Community Land Trust (WACCLT) will use the flat for creative arts programming to enhance the health and wellbeing of the people of the Wirral: what better end could there be to this amazing story.

Tom Chance, Chief Executive, National Community Land Trust Network:

Ron’s place is now protected by its listed status, and by community ownership of the building and the land it sits on. It joins over 2,000 other assets across the country that are owned and democratically stewarded for local benefit by community land trusts. I think it’s particularly powerful to have a trust whose purpose blends arts and heritage with a duty to wider community wellbeing. This is not just about art for art’s sake, or art as the forerunner for gentrification. It’s about recognising how Ron’s place is woven into the social fabric of the local community, and the community being able to protect and enrich that fabric through community ownership.

Image: Alison Bailey Smith with Sarah Charlesworth, Listing North Team Leader from Historic England

Similar Posts