Chas Glovers House
I first met Chas Glover when I bought one of his paintings. A mutual friend gave me an invitation to an exhibition he was about to have. I was going to be away so I phoned Chas and asked him if I could buy the painting on the invitation before the opening. Happily, he agreed and that was that. I hadn’t seen the original, I didn’t know how big it was and I didn’t know how much it was going to cost but the painting was mine.
After returning from holidays I went to Chas’ home to collect the painting and was struck by two things. First, the painting was great and I was really glad I had bought it. And second, his house was incredible. From the outside it looked like something from an Edward Hopper painting; a beautiful, rickety two-storey place right next to the train line in Marrickville, Sydney. But it was the inside that really fascinated me. There was stuff everywhere including heaps of Chas’ paintings, some hanging and others stacked up, leaning against walls. There were other pictures, statues, knick knacks, great furniture, musical instruments and strange curiosities. The rooms were all painted different colours and each contained more great things. Instead of being a chaotic mess it all felt arranged and considered.
On my first visit we discussed the idea of photographing the house (although Chas told me more recently that he had misunderstood me and thought I just wanted to photograph the exterior). The first photographs are from a few years ago. Each time I visited things had been moved around and parts of the house have been photographed several times with totally different results.
Chas is probably best described as an outsider artist in the sense that he has never formally trained as a painter and he works outside mainstream visual arts culture. His paintings depict an eerie world, using recurring imagery including carnival scenes, sideshows, anachronistic interiors, performing animals and portraits of himself and of his girlfriend Annabel. Chas shares the house with Annabel, their dog Harry and their cat Monkey.
As I spent more time at Chas’ house and saw more of his work I began to notice objects from around the house appearing in his paintings. The carpet or room colour would be the interiors in paintings. And sometimes paintings would appear in other paintings. I realised that the house played an important role in Chas’ work and that the paintings and the house were part of the same expression and were completely interconnected.
Chas and I talked about photographing the house but there was no plan beyond that. If I had time I would visit and hang around for a bit. Sometimes I would take photographs and sometimes I wouldn’t. We would always talk, listen to music, drink coffee and maybe go for a walk with the dog and in this way we have become friends. I particularly like the photograph of Chas in the backyard with the ukulele because he is actually singing me a song he had written.