To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the closure of London's most infamous arts establishment, the Colony Room Club in Soho, former member Darren Coffield has written the authorised history of this notorious drinking den. It's a hair-raising romp through the underbelly of the post-war scene: during its sixty-year history, more romances, more deaths, more horrors and more sex scandals took place in the Colony than anywhere else.
In the regimented and repressed atmosphere of post-war London, the Colony was heroically bohemian, largely thanks to the dominant personality of its owner, Muriel Belcher. Muriel was a combination of muse, mentor, critic and guru to those who gathered around her, just as the Colony provided a home for the confluence of talents that will be forever associated with the artistic circle of Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud.
Tales from the Colony is an oral biography, consisting of previously unpublished and long-lost interviews with the characters who were central to the scene, giving the reader a flavour of what it was like to frequent the Club. With a glass in hand you'll move through the decades listening to personal reminiscences, opinions and vitriol, from the authentic voices of those who were actually there.
On your voyage through Soho's lost bohemia, you'll be served a drink by James Bond, sip champagne with Francis Bacon, queue for the loo with Christine Keeler, go racing with Jeffrey Bernard, get laid with Lucian Freud, kill time with Doctor Who, pick a fight with Frank Norman and pass out with Peter Langan. All with a stellar supporting cast including Peter O'Toole, George Melly, Suggs, Lisa Stansfield, Dylan Thomas, Jay Landesman, Sarah Lucas, Damien Hirst and many, many more.
Darren Coffield has exhibited widely in the company of many leading artists including Damien Hirst, Howard Hodgkin, Patrick Caulfield and Gilbert and George at venues ranging from the Courtauld Institute, Somerset House to Voloshin Museum, Crimea. In the early nineties Coffield worked with Joshua Compston on the formation of Factual Nonsense, the centre of the emerging Young British Artists scene. A book by Coffield about this period in British art, Factual Nonsense: The Art and Death of Joshua Compston, was accompanied by an exhibition at Paul Stolper Gallery. He lives and works in London.