Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.
In 2018 the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit celebrated its tenth anniversary.
Picture: © Chris Lanaway, 2010.

October 2011

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2011-10-07

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Duggie & Iggy (2011)
Duggie Fields & Iggy (2011).

In the Seventies, Eigthies, Nineties and Naughties (sic) no interview with an (ex-) Pink Floyd member could be published without the obligatory Syd Barrett question. This enervated the interviewees sometimes at a point that they may have said things they would later regret but that are continuously repeated, decades later, by Sydiots all over the world in their quest to prove that member D, R or N still holds a grudge against that godlike creature named Syd.

I's a bit like Paul McCartney who will, forever and ever, be reminded of his 'It's a drag' comment the day John Lennon died, a comment he gave to the press vultures while he was emotionally exhausted.

In 2005 when Roger Waters' (rather unexciting) Ca Ira opera saw the light of day he was obliged to face the press, but his management insisted to talk about the opera and not about Pink Floyd. Belgian journalist Serge Simonart described this wryly as interviewing Winston Churchill and only asking about his hobbies. The music journalist however smuggled in a Barrett-related question and noted down the following statement:

The press is also to blame, because they want a juicy tale. Syd was a juicy tale, and that is why his influence seems to be so much bigger than it was in reality: he barely was a year in the band, and we have made our best work later without him. (Taken from WHERE ARE THEY NOW... ROGER WATERS (PINK FLOYD), currently hosted at A Fleeting Glimpse.)

Apart from the fact that Roger Waters needs an extra semi-trailer to transport his ego while he is on tour, he has a valid point although some Syd anoraks will obviously not agree with the above.

Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.
Duggie Fields at Wetherby Mansions, ca. 1970.

In December 1968 (give or take a month) Syd Barrett, Duggie Fields and a drop-out named Jules rented a three bedroom apartment at Wetherby Mansions. As Jules left a short while later the witnesses who can tell us something substantial about Syd's daily life are Duggie Fields, Gala Pinion (who took the spare bedroom about 6 months later), Iggy Rose plus the circle of close friends and, unfortunately enough, hanger-ons who were only there for the free food, free booze and free drugs. Syd Barrett was either a very generous host or simply too spaced-out to understand that he was being ripped-off.

Our good friend Iggy Rose is rather reluctant to divulge too much to the outside world and anything that she has told the Reverend stays well inside the Church's sigillum confessionis. Gala seems to have disappeared in Germany of all places, so perhaps someone ought to create a Semi-Holy Church of Jules in order to find and question him. Most people who knew Syd seem to have valid enough reasons to keep a low profile, unless they want to sell overpriced Barrett photo books.

The result is that all weight falls upon the man who lived with Syd for a couple of years and who tried (and succeeded) in making a successful art career of his own: Duggie Fields. But it must have been, and probably still is, a pain in the arse that whenever he wants to inform the press about a new exposition they all friendly smile into his direction and say: “Fine, but we only want to know about Syd Barrett really”.

So let's set the record straight, shall we? With a little help of our Spanish-sister-blog Solo En Las Nubes we hereafter present you an exclusive Duggie Fields self-interview (from the 24th November of 2010) and we will not add another word about Syd. Sort of.

Solo en les Nubes
Solo en las nubes.

Duggie Fields, much more than a room-mate

Artistically, a Duggie Fields interview speaks for itself and needs no introduction.

Although there are some obvious influences on his paintings, his art – like with all great artists - is immediately recognisable. But the Duggie Fields label is not limited to canvas alone.

His life is filled with very curious anecdotes. One of those is how he shared a flat with Syd Barrett (and – although only for a couple of weeks – with Iggy Rose [note from FA]), the protagonist of this blog. Exclusively for Todos En Las Nubes Mr. Fields has written this self-interview. An honor.

ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields
ARTSCAPE (juggler6) - Duggie Fields.

So how do you start your day...?

Usually at the computer. In the winter in my dressing gown; in the summer in my underwear, with a cup of green tea....

And...?

I check my emails. Facebook. And then sometimes I sit working on a new idea, a picture or less frequently a piece of music. And some times hours can pass without me registering.

What are you working on then now?

On the computer I have a couple of new image ideas started. How well they’ll develop I don’t yet know. And a new piece of music on the way, the first for quite some time. There’s also the canvas I’ve been working on for most of the summer now.

So what’s that all about?

That’s not so easy for me to say. If it has a narrative I’ve yet to work out what it is about. There seems to be some kind of story. There are two figures in the picture occupying the same, but not quite the same, space. Both looking at something but not quite the same something. Both figures have spiritual overtones. The male figure came from a statue in the graveyard just around the corner from here. The female figure was a chance vision at an Arts and Antiques Fair up the road in Olympia. Photographed randomly, not initially intended to pair with him but somehow ending there intuitively.

Male Female - Duggie Fields
Male Female - Duggie Fields.

What’s “just around the corner” ?

Just around the corner is Brompton Cemetery. Just around the corner is also the name of a series of photographs I have been taking. Almost daily and with my mobile phone and then posted on my Facebook page. The Cemetery is Victorian, designed to echo on a much smaller scale St.Peter’s in Rome, and ravishing when over-grown and wild as it was last year. I photograph in there regularly. Always managing to discover unseen statues, so many angels, and a wealth of ever-changing imagery. And also I take pictures just around the corner on the streets where I live.

And where is that?

Earls Court, an area I’ve lived in now for over 40 years. In the same home, the one I first got with Syd Barrett shortly after he’d left the Pink Floyd and which we shared together for a couple of years or so before he left even further from the life he’d once lived, and that I’ve lived in ever since.

Have you always taken photographs?

At Art School I did photography briefly as part of my course there, enjoying time in the dark-room developing, processing and printing my own film, but not really getting on with their prevailing concepts of what the subjects should be. Over the years I’ve had various cameras, though nothing got me so involved again until going digital allowed me to print and process on screen. The camera phone I enjoy enormously, not having to carry a separate camera with me, one less item to fill the pockets and think about. I use it kind of as a visual diary. I upload the images to Facebook as it is currently simpler than adding them to my own website the way it is set-up at the moment.

Note: This year (2011) Just Around The Corner evolved into a very agreeable book.

That implies you might change it..?

That will change at some stage, but it’s a job that just adds to the list of things to do. And right now that’s a growing list. The website (www.duggiefields.com) works well enough as it stands. But all its sections, and there are many already, could be expanded on. Like everything it is a question of time, and of priorities.

Note: There is a Duggie Fields blog as well.

What’s the biggest change then that might happen to it?

Well apart from a dedicated Photography section, I have over 1,000 images to choose from to add there. Mostly landscapes and things, the “Just around the corner” series, “Tree offerings”, and “Curiosities”. There is more music to add. Quite a few more pieces in addition to what is already online. And lastly to update the “Word” section with some new writing. Have been working for the past few years on anecdotes from my life, from childhood on. Currently have written up to my early years in Wetherby Mansions.

And when might this happen?

You might well ask that. Really it depends. Right now I’m finishing off one very large acrylic canvas; thinking about what the next one I paint might be, painting always being my priority over everything, though now first starting with imagery made on computer whereas before it would start on tracing and graph paper. Working on a couple of digital images that will stay digital whatever, possibly being output as digital printed canvasses an option. As well as continuing with the music piece I started only recently. So I am occupied, pre-occupied, engaged, and other-wise committed. Enough in fact to think, this is enough for this too so I can back get on with some real work, which of course it always is. Time demanding however rewarding it feels in the process, which it does, there is never enough of it it seems........

© 2010 Antonio Jesús, Solo en las Nubes. Pictures courtesy of Duggie Fields & Jenny Spires. Notes & Introduction : the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit. Translation mistakes, typos and all possible errors are entirely the responsibility of the Holy Church of Iggy the Inuit.