A book borrowed from the local library became an all-encompassing read for me very quickly. I barely put it down once comfortably ensconced in a nice place. The book, initially written whilst the author languished in prison for art forgery, or rather fraudulent deception for pecuniary advantage, is a cracking read, mixed with wit, pathos, humour and observations.
Shaun Greenhalgh, from Bolton, was born in 1961, a basic education often saw him playing truant, and spending this time often in Manchester Art Galleries, and similar places. His compulsive immersion into history and art was thus born, and fondly nurtured. He began his first forays into forgeries, by manufacturing modest little Victorian pot lids, baking them in a small kiln at home, and soon making a healthy profit. One can see how his life became a melange of art forms, styles, disciplines and methodology, until he became incredibly well versed in duplicating all.
The book gives a really good, down–to-earth account of how he did the deeds, the methods utilized, where his materials were sourced, how things were financed, sold on, and the later revelations about where some items have ended up. I guess he rightly has an axe to grind relative to his side of the story. He states he had no intention of cheating, he simply sold his product to others. As different provenance is given to each item, by various dealers for profit, the situation became well beyond his control.
His writing is open and instructional, fascinating all through the book. His depth of knowledge is superb, his almost accidental education into art by others is a revelation. The book comes over as a lesson on art history, interestingly told from the layman’s perspective, then, how he managed to age/reproduce each item to befuddle the ‘experts’. All this done from a rented garage near his parent’s home, or in his backyard shed.
Whatever the motives behind the situation that Shaun Greenhalgh’s he found himself in, his writing certainly reveals how the Police, the experts, the dealers et al, seem to be wallowing in the mire at all twists and turns. I really engaged with the book, and its story to tell.
Reg Seward 5/2*
A Forgers Tale by Shaun Greenhalgh
9781760295271 Allen & Unwin Hardback 2017