The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones
Book, 17.9 x 11.1 cm, 271 p., language : English, publisher : www.testcentre.org.uk, ISBN : 978-0-9926858-4-3.
Materials: Ink, paper
Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2027/44).
This novel tells the story of the life of Ray ‘The Cat’ Jones, who nearly became middleweight boxing champion of the world but instead went on to become the greatest cat burglar of all time and made one of the most notorious prison escapes in British history. Ray is a tee-total, fitness obsessed, working-class Welshman whose boxing ambitions were thwarted when he was set up by a corrupt cop and sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, setting him on a path of revenge and a crusade against the inequalities and injustices of British society. Ray is a modern Robin Hood waging an ideological class war against the rich. From the jewels of movie stars Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, to the private papers of the Duke of Windsor, paintings by Rubens and Rembrandt, and the furs of the London aristocracy, Ray’s carefully targeted burglaries are perfectly planned and thrillingly executed. Part biography, part true crime story, part political manifesto, the novel combines Home’s typically sharp social and political comment with a fascinating, highly personal story of a life of crime and punishment. Ray was, it emerges, the cousin of Home’s mother.
Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice
The Age of Anti-Ageing was an exhibition by Stewart Home and Chris Dorley-Brown that took place in The Function Room, in London, in 2014. There were two sets of eight images, ten years apart. A third set, the original, seen only through the others, dates from 1966. Then, the model, 22, was Julia Callan-Thompson, the mother, missing person, apparently a club hostess, fashion model, aspirant actress, hippie, hard drug user and doyenne of West London Bohemia. Then, first repetition, 2004, the son, 42, restages the shoot, adopts the mother's pose and is photographed, original and copy are merged: Becoming (M)Other. Then, next repetition, 2014, the son, 52, restages the shoot, adopts the mother's pose and is photographed, copy and copy are merged. During the exhibition there was a public launch of The 9 Lives of Ray the Cat Jones with the performance Come as Your Mum, during which audience were asked to attend “in some attitude or form, and explore the idea of becoming (m)other.”
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The Artist's Novel
The Book Lovers is a research project on the phenomenon of the artist's novel curated by David Maroto and Joanna Zielińska. The central quest