Monday, 12 April 2010
CRAIGIE AITCHISON, RA - THE ARTIST WHO LIVED IN KENNINGTON
Craigie Aitchison bought my dad's Triumph Herald car.
This is a photo of the car, by the village cross in Leigh, Dorset, taken years ago.
We were living then near Wimbledon Chase in South London and I advertised the vintage Triumph Herald for sale.
There was very little interest because the car was old, and I had to state that there was a bit of rust, with various faults that needed attending to, although I had driven it back from Dorset with no problems. My dad, being an engineer, had cared for it lovingly and it had been re-sprayed. He had bought it new in 1958.
Craigie arrived at my door with his little Bedlington terrier dog, wearing one of the ties that he designed and which you can buy at the Royal Academy shop. He liked the car because it was a stylish white and red, and it had the small half-lights in the front windows. This, he said, was the deciding factor because his dog liked to ride with his head out of the window. By then I had recognized him for the famous artist that he was.
We delivered the car a few days later to the tall terrace house in a square in Kennington, not far from the Imperial War Museum. We were hospitably welcomed and admired the lovely, cluttered room where Craigie had amassed so many extraordinary objects. He complained mildly that when journalists came to interview him, they were more interested in his collections, such as Scotty dog electric fires, than they were in his art.
I wish now that I had asked for a painting in exchange for the car, instead of money, but then we were hard up, as usual.
Craigie said "I think being an artist is all about being able to do whatever one wants to do".