Words by Matthew Ponsford with photographs by Elliot Kennedy
“He is like a huge open eye. An incredible open eye. You can see every detail in his eye and you can see how our world is transformed into something new — something magical.
“You stand in front of him and it will change you . . . and give you . . . incredible power . . . I . . . I don’t know . . . how. It’s beautiful.”
— Experimentalist Andrey Bartenev
BERRIEW, WALES — Andrew Logan is a beacon of light. Everyone will tell you so. David Hockney, Derek Jarman, Leigh Bowery, Vivienne Westwood, Duran Duran, John Waters, Rula Lenska, Adam Ant — they’re a glimpse of the characters who have inhabited the fairytale world that Andrew has built from scrap.
The artist has always had passion for the “unusual people”; the “creatives”, the extraordinary lives — and so it’s hardly surprising that some of the people arriving at his door happen to be famous. But it’s not about that.
For the past 40 years, Andrew has been best known around the world for an anarchic party that envisioned a better future. His Alternative Miss World is a fancy dress contest inspired by a dog show, which — in thirteen instalments so far — has embraced a world that hasn’t always been welcoming.
Andrew, a willowy 70-year-old, remains the Pied Piper, according to those who share his life. He inspires celebrities and misfits alike to follow.
At the centre of his story are spaces he has filled with light and the people who have been bathed in it. He built the Glasshouse in Southwark, London, his home and studio for 25 years, and packed it with creations assembled from jumble sale finds and glitter: collages of bric-a-brac, jewellery made from coloured glass, sculptures of Pegasus with wings outstretched, colossal eggs glistening with shards of fractured mirror. There he lived beneath a glass ceiling designed by his architect partner, Michael Davis, so he could gaze out into the infinite and fall asleep under the lights of the universe.
In this article, the people closest to Andrew — Michael, Brian Eno, Grayson Perry, Zandra Rhodes, friends and family — reflect a little of the glittering glow that he gives off.
We meet Andrew in rural Mid Wales, at the Andrew Logan Museum of Sculpture: the only museum in Europe dedicated to a living artist, and Andrew and Michael’s temporary home.
In the village of Berriew, Powys — halfway up Wales, and a few miles from the English border — there are artists in the hills, apparently. Michael, who has been with Andrew for 45 years, says the couple started journeying here in the Eighties, when friends of theirs were caretakers for Julie Christie, who breeds sheep up the road. There’s a long history of artists arriving from the big city, but, as a scene, it never really came together.
Berriew is made up of a few country lanes that converge on a gurgling river. There’s a church with a tower, two pubs, a Spar shop with stale sandwiches, and a sign listing those glorious years when Berriew was recognised as the best-kept village in Wales.
And then there’s Andrew, across the road, hat-to-hems in shining pink, beaming — a man from a distant planet.
They get on well with the locals — mainly farmers — he thinks. But he can’t get through to them, really, about the museum or his art. “Impossible”, he says, quickly. “Only through the schools: the children.”
In the early days, it took a day to get to Berriew from London: “It was exciting, you’d get lost, it was fabulous.” He’d always dreamt of having his museum and, when he and Michael found some abandoned squash courts near the river, they built it. It opened in 1991. As you walk in the front door, almost filling your line of sight is a 10ft Cosmic Egg — a giant oval covered in mirrored glass that reflects everything: the light through the doorway, the artefacts lining the walls, the strangers around you. Andrew glows. Being so remote amplifies its effect, he reckons: “It’s a double shock: you walk in and think ‘Oh my goodness, where’s this come from?’ ”