Sunday 14 November 2010

The Sunday Story: Lionel Burleigh.


Please read below before clicking above.

I mentioned this last sunday, but whilst living in London, back in the mid-60's, I met some really interesting, bizarre, and notable people.

Amongst the bizarre list (and very close to the top) was a man called Lionel Burleigh.

I first met Lionel at a rather smart Bond Street vernissage, when he sidled up to me and whispered 'Just say I'm your uncle'. We toured the lacklustre show together, then went off for a couple of beers at a nearby pub'.

Lionel fascinated me from the beginning. Over the time it takes to down a few pints, he revealed several of his more interesting recent exploits. He'd managed to fix one of his own paintings to the wall of a Picasso exhibition at The Tate, he'd published the world's most unsuccessful newspaper (The Commonwealth Sentinel, which first appeared on the 6th of Feb 1965 and closed the following day), he'd persuaded British Rail to reinstigate The Brighton Belle (a dining/drinking train service to the south coast) losing BR a fortune, and he'd sent all of his 9 children to Drama School and managed to live off their bit-part earnings.

Somehow Lionel persuaded me to allow him to use my premises in Chelsea (I was in the antiques business at the time), for a 'Painting Marathon'. His aim was to paint several hundred pictures in one day, and sell them off at a few shillings a time to passers by.

All went according to plan, except that he only sold about two. At the end of the day he gave loads of them to me, but they were such rubbish that I threw them away at once. We remained friends for a while then he simply disappeared. No doubt he'd found some other mug to tolerate his eccentricities.

Anyway, I recently came across the above clip of dear old Lionel. He's doing what he did best (or worst), and making our lives just that little bit more fun in the process.

It was good knowing you Mr Burleigh. But you were a dreadful bloody painter!


  1. There were loads of nutters like that around in the 60s, weren't there? I met a handful of them, including Bruce Lacey and Tammo de Johng. Maybe it was because of the austere war years? They were mainly pains in the backside, but - being young - they were attractive personalities to a kid just out of school.

  2. I remember Bruce L. Not heard of Tammo de J; I'll look him up. I think in those days that overt eccentricity was quite rare, which made them even more noticable.

  3. I got both Bruce Lacey and the other fellow to give a guest lecture at Farnham, because they were both so barking mad. Lacey turned up dressed as a 17th century cavalier because - he said - he didn't have time to change out of costume from a theatre show he was doing in London at the time. Hmm..

  4. I kind of liked the two he did of his wife and daughter, but the rest were a bit garish. How fun that you got to meet him!

  5. But you have to admit Cro, he did make the world that little bit brighter even if he didn't do anything else!

  6. Shame! Two of his water colours sold recently for £7500 and a oil painting went for £32,000 .


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...