IT IS A SOBERING thought that our two great arts benefactors, Edwin Young and John Creasey were no great artists themselves. Young was competent but had little in the way of individual vision, and might best be described as a journeyman.

Creasey seems the more interesting of the two, but I’m not sure any of the books he wrote were great literature. They were certainly popular, selling 80 million copies, yet strangely one doesn’t come across them very often. Some of his character creations have been adapted for TV or radio, and I am familiar only with The Toff (oft repeated on Radio 4 Extra), who embodies a number of key male fantasies. He is rich and upper class (obviously), an amateur sleuth who at over six feet tall is not afraid to biff the baddies on the noggin. Crucially The Toff had gained the respect of the lower classes, useful when some extra muscle was needed.

You might think Creasey was simply writing for profit, under no illusions about the sophistication of his market, but I’m not sure it’s possible to be purely mercenary about any creative work. Creasey’s characters were surely projections of his own fantasies? I have read that he “founded the All Party Alliance, a political movement advocating government by the best men from all the parties working together.” Like we had in the war. He stood in four by-elections in the 1960s, once getting twice the votes of the Liberal candidate.

He advocated shared political control of nations, and industrial democracy where workers, management, investors and the State shared ownership control of industry and commerce. This would end political strife, increasing prosperity so the State's profit would virtually do away with income tax.

In short he was a dreamer with little idea of the real world. He lived at New Hall, Bodenham towards the end of his life (he died in 1973), and collected some quality contemporary art which he gave to the Young Gallery after his death.

His walking sticks were also part of this bequest, and these were the unlikely inspiration for the current exhibition at the Young Gallery, ‘Wonderment’ by Linn O’Carroll. She took the sticks out on walks, collecting objects she found, or was given by the people she met.

It took three visits to the exhibition for me to unravel the stories it contains. The key is to study the book/catalogue before viewing the work on show. The framed exhibition notes are reprinted from a blog, and blogs aren’t written for a layman audience. O’Carroll is clearly a good artist but could explain herself more lucidly.

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