“Simon Buttimore – A Man Apart”

The Sayle Gallery is pleased to be presenting a new exhibition in fond memory of one of the island’s well known characters, Simon Buttimore, who sadly passed away earlier this year. The exhibition will be a reflection of Simon’s extraordinary lifestyle and his creativity. It will showcase a wide range of Simon’s own artworks and collections, shared by those who loved and admired him, and his work. Simon believed wholeheartedly in the value of art provision in general and in the Sayle Gallery in particular and did much to support the gallery’s work. The exhibition will run from the 8th of September to the 9th of October 2016 at the Sayle Gallery, Douglas.

Simon spent his formative years on the Isle of Man. After a brief spell in London, he returned to the Isle of Man where he lived and worked. Simon spent some time living with artist, David Gilbert, on his wonderful farm in Kirk Michael. David and his wife Sheila’s farm is fondly remembered by a number of young people who were welcomed to spend time there in the creative haven it formed.

Simon went on to form his own creative haven at the relatively cut off, Ballafrog in Lezayre. Here he lived a lifestyle which was largely, ‘off the grid’, creating a place for himself, his horses and for the many friends who needed to retreat to his haven of peace and tranquility.

Simon devoted much time to becoming a good horseman. His horses roamed freely around his land and they and Simon became a familiar sight as he drove them around in an array of horse drawn vehicles which Simon had either built or restored himself. Traditional gypsy caravans can still be found around the Island, most of which were built by Simon. In the 1990’s Simon could often be seen driving the Bushy’s dray around Douglas. This is perhaps ironic, as in later life Simon became teetotal.

Simon was a talented musician as well as a visual artist. He played regularly in bands, perhaps most notably in, The Bar Toads, alongside his brother Anglin. Simon also composed his own music often to provide a soundtrack for his art practice in the form of film making and animation. Simon’s films will form part of his tribute exhibition and will also be shown at a special film night in the gallery on the 16th August at 7.30pm. The film nights at the gallery were a series of events that Simon initiated and ran up until his untimely death. They continue to be run by two of his friends in his honour.

As well as being an accomplished art film maker, Simon produced art works in many other forms. His skilled wood carvings can be found in private ownership across the Island and beyond. These range from small pieces to large fire surrounds or even whole trees such as the sculptural pieces at Bishopscourt and Cooil Darry Glen. Several pieces have been kindly loaned to the gallery for his tribute exhibition.

Simon actively supported the arts on the the Isle of Man all his life. In the 1990’s he was part of ‘Arts in Mann’ alongside artists such as Norman Sayle and Maurice Day and was the only member of the group who could coax the old bus (which was the travelling gallery) into life and to its next point of call. Simon was regularly involved in creative gatherings and celebrations such as the Beltane event in Sulby Glen. Many people knew and loved Simon the eccentric, kind, supportive, creative man and respected his ‘alternative’ thinking and view of the world. He was a larger than life, unique character that enriched his Island home. The Isle of Man is a poorer place without such a person. He truly was ‘A Man Apart’…


Quotes and testimonies:

Simon Buttimore:

“I would love to see new art everyday…”

“Sometimes I see art and I think I would like to do something like that but…I’m just me.”

“I’m never very happy with the end result but a thing runs its course…I could have done this or that. When I look back I see it afresh maybe 5 years on.”

“At school they handed me extra art lessons…I wasn’t very good at history or geography…I ended up at this special place, a commune of artists run by Sheila Gilbert in 1978…growing their own food, milking cows, making things from nothing.”

Lily Wolter from ‘My Gold Teeth’:

“I didn’t know Simon too well, but he did used to turn up at all our Your Gold Teeth gigs with all his TV’s, bed sheets, projectors, and everything under the kitchen sink, and make the night truly special with his unique collection of vintage animations, psycadellic visuals and weird yet wonderful clips! They would brighten up the room and make certain gigs really special. It was definitely a nice little bit of team work! I’ll miss him, always a super kind and easy going chap. Big love Simon, and thanks for everything you did with Your Gold Teeth. X X X”

Jenni Smith from SoundCheck Music Project:

The first time I met Simon was when Soundcheck were running a stage at a festival a number of years ago. He was performing with his band. The Bar Toads. who had no worries about performing on stage with people well over half their age. Simon at the time was a mass of wild hair and coolness, the young people were inspired by his bass playing and energy on stage and loved the fact that they were performing with and being taken as seriously as musicians of The Bar Toads stature.

After that the band would play any Soundcheck gig we offered them, such as our annual Castle Rushen gig and would turn up well before their turn to play to help out and also support the young performers who Simon and the band (including his brother Anglin and friend Danny who both have links to the Soundcheck project) continued to inspire and encourage. It was amazing to see how their music captured audience’s generations apart, and even though the style was not what the young people would seek out they were in awe of not only the talent, but also the passion for music and performing that Simon and the guys showed on stage.

One of my fondest memories of Simon is when Soundcheck took a group of young people around the island to do some busking type acoustic performances. On this occasion we were performing outside. Simon was there with a number of other artists at the event which was to showcase their talents to the public and he was chatting to the young people about his wood carvings. Then came a downpour and much of the audience retreated inside to get away from the rain. I remember there Simon stood with his hair, beard and eyebrows dripping with rain, holes in his sodden t­ shirt with that kind smile on his face. Stood there in the downpour supporting the young performers as a fellow musician.

Soundcheck now has a bass guitar that belonged to Simon, it is not particularly outstanding as an instrument, inexpensive, it’s nice to play but would not be described as remarkable. Yet it is among mine and many others favourites because it belonged to Simon and serves as a reminder of the dedication and passion to his art that continues to inspire us all.



A Man Apart – The Life and Work of Simon Buttimore
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