Born in Epping, Essex, in 1950 or 1960. *
1965-67 - Epping Infant School. Bullied over break-time at playground drinking fountain by Robert Winston. In a bizarre reversal preceding my awareness of Duchamp’s Fountain this trauma will lead to a toilet urinal phobia in later life, resulting in much queuing. Trauma trigger is exacerbated by Winston’s demands of “Arms up”, which sounds very much like “R.Mutt”.
My revenge on Winston is exacted in 1972, when, drawn to play against him in the Epping Subbuteo Cup table football tournament, I crush him 3-0. I am controversially knocked out of the next round 1-0 after a penalty is awarded against me because the start of the match is delayed due to Sunday dinner being eaten on the table that the match is to be played on.
Not surprisingly, too much time spent at the drinking fountain leads to my wetting myself a couple of times at infant school. On one occasion, it happens when I am sitting on the floor at the back of the class during the final lesson of the day. By making small circular movements with my bottom I manage to mop up most of it into my short trousers and convince myself that no one has noticed. School finishes, and I run the half-mile or so to my home, by which time the insides of my thighs are badly chafed.
1966 – England win the World Cup. Although the match is on our B/W television, I don’t pay much attention to it as I‘m preoccupied with an Airfix model kit of the ‘Lightning’ jet. I have trouble sticking the pilot into his cockpit, and the glue becomes stringy.
Throughout this time, my esthetic sensibility is characterized by a ‘lightness of touch’ – I display little imagination, but I'm very good at filling in colouring books extremely neatly (I’m reminded of a Stephen Fry anecdote in which he tells of someone he was at University with who said of William Blake “Can’t draw, good at colouring in”). My collection of Matchbox toy cars is mainly impeccably boxed, and remains throughout my childhood, in pristine condition. I also recall from this period my unease at the creasing of new leather shoes as they were worn for the first time, lifting my feet as I walked along to anxiously check the tread for signs of wear, and sometimes even applying polish to the soles in an attempt to restore them.
Life is punctuated by trips to the dentist for tooth removal (at that time done under gas) or fillings (carried out without anaesthetic). Despite the gas prompting some lovely dreams, the awfulness of these occasions is only alleviated by the knowledge of the reward of an immediate trip to Finlays sweetshop next door. On one occasion I remember projectile vomiting into the shop bin, before being comforted by a packet of Munchies.
1970 – Earliest surviving artworks made - 2 ceramic sculptures, Mouse, and Mole. Much later group therapy work at Wysing Arts residential retreat (2013) reveals their hitherto hidden and precociously sophisticated phallic symbolism.
1971 – Prize winner in school painting competition for a portrait of a masked figure (Winston the bully perhaps)? More significantly, this earns me a pair of new ‘Gola’ football boots from my Dad.
1971-77 - Attended Secondary school in Harlow New Town. Nostalgia for New Town optimism to this day is only quashed by occasional visits to witness the hideousness of ‘add on’ developments to Harlow Town Centre.
Other than the sense of freedom I experienced on the games field, and my excelling at sport, I didn’t enjoy secondary school. I even clashed with the Games teacher, and vividly recall my last report from him: “His refusal to accept even the most constructive criticism will prevent his immense potential from being realized.” Rubbish.
1975 – Member of victorious ‘Arkwrights United’ football team - Harlow Recreational League under-15 league and cup winners. Had the cleanest boots in the team.
1976 - Had abortive interview for job at Williams and Glyns Bank. I remember being asked what we were reading at school (Macbeth) and whether this was fiction or non-fiction. Since even at that time I seem to have been aware that artists don’t make anything up - it’s all rooted in observation - this led to some questioning of terms. I failed most of my exams and decided to stay on to sixth form and do retakes. As my best friend Sean Fowler was taking ‘O’ level art, I decided to as well.
1977 - Having really enjoyed art I go off to Technical College with the intention of becoming a ‘Graphic Designer’ (and put off having to enter the adult world of work). I discover ‘Conceptual Art’ at this time, and the work of Duchamp.
1978-81 - B.A. Fine Art, Wolverhampton Polytechnic. Disgruntled by the lack of intellectual stimulus in our first term, myself and a colleague attempt to instigate a coup against the sleepy, ruling painterly elite. We are partly placated by a visit from Michael Craig Martin, whose work I had just discovered. At his suggestion, we visit the Arnolfini, Bristol, and see a great show by American artist William Wegman.
1978 - Made first humorous work Curry Favour. Charlie Fairclough creates record for greatest number of curries eaten in a term (67).
1980 – While laying in the bath sucking on a large Cuban, made observation for first photographic work, Hot and Cold Taps.
1984-86 - Taught by infamous ‘lock 'em in a room and see what happens’ tutor Peter Kardia at the Royal College of Art, Environmental Media Dept.
1987 - On the dole and hard up, during a telephone conversation with my Mum I happen to mention that money is ‘tight’. An hour later she phones me back and I’m horror struck when she tells me she's sold my prized Matchbox toy cars for £30.
1988 – Eastern Arts Bursary award exhibition, Cambridge Darkroom.
1990 –1995 - I exhibit in numerous exhibitions at the Lisson Gallery, London. Since Art is sold by the metre, director Nicholas Logsdail will often encourage me with the mantra “Make it Bigger”. Transforming him into my old Games teacher, I refuse to oblige.
1997 – After years of surviving on odd jobs and ‘the dole’, supplemented only by brown paper envelopes full of cash, I find sanctuary in a part-time job at Lea Bridge library in Leyton, East London (my old stamping ground).
1999 - My library manager and I are charged with gross professional misconduct for allegedly playing table tennis in work time, though ‘the Lea Bridge 2’ are eventually freed on a technicality after management fail to follow their own rules correctly. Summoned to the Head of Libraries office to be ‘officially’ informed, my co-defendant smuggles a cassette player in and records the event, which later that year we release as a Christmas single.
One person exhibition at Woodlands Gallery, South London.
1999 - 2005 - I become a plasterer, plumber, electrician, bricklayer, painter and decorator when I renovate a dilapidated house/studio where I am living in east London.
2000 – First daughter born. When she finally emerges after a long labour I utter the words "a baby" and faint.
2002 – Second daughter born, and this time I come through unscathed.
2005 – I bump into London conceptual art mafia boss Nicholas Logsdail and he asks me menacingly “When are we going to see your break-through art?”
2006 – Fleeing from the mob I move out of London to Suffolk. Working at Colchester library and training as a mobile library driver while renovating another wreck of a house, I win a £1000 prize at an exhibition in Bury St. Edmunds, and I’m relieved to be paid in the form of a cheque. I have my leg bitten by a dog while running through the local park on my way to work.
Received Arts Council ‘Grants for the Arts Award’ for exhibition at the Minories, Colchester, in 2014.
2014 - Invited by Wysing Arts to respond to the question “Where do you see yourself in twenty five years” I put my face on a batch of five pound notes and smuggle five of them into circulation: Terry Bond - 1960 - 2039: For Services to Looking and Seeing.
Making work from a studio within the Jugg Foundation in Ipswich.
One person show Neighbourhood Watch at The Minories, Colchester. Reviewed in July/August Art Monthly.
*see The Story of Flight