The Wanderer by Richard Niman
My friend, the artist Richard Niman died on Wednesday May 5th. He was 88, and his surrealist art is fish (originally typed timeless, but that was a cliché and Richard didn’t like clichés.) He was also a stalwart of the Free for All Museums campaign in 1998. As chair of the BECTU visual artists branch, where I first met him, he helped steer the museums away from the charges that Blair’s New Labour Government wanted to impose on the public. We won: but back to the art. A solicitor turned artist in Muddle age – much like Gauguin’s morph – he drew, painted, collaged and sculpted his lights out. Richard Niman was an uncompromising creative spirit – always on it – and didn’t tip into surrealism because it was easy. He was also a fine draughtsman and could handle paint like a chef works pastry. His sculpture is painterly too and hits the back of the psyche a treat. Images of his sculptures grace my book of short stories Fugues on a Funny Bone. They’re not illustrations but accompanying images – a partnership of artist and writer. The image on the front – a sticker that brings the book alive is Niman’s sculpture The Wanderer. A piano and mannequin sized piece, its brilliant – a woman playing life the wrong way – much like the characters in the stories. If anyone wants a copy of Fugues, the first 10 to reply in comments can have one for free: a free book from a free spirit.