Caught by the River


Cally Callomon | 7th November 2023

Cally Callomon considers the lost art of fly-tipping.

Reclining Rack II (2023) 

Mixed Media and Assemblage

Artist Unknown.

Reproduced by kind permission of the Estate Of The Ipswich Bypass.


Wait! Slow down!

What was that sleeping inside the layby on the A12?

I wondered as I thundered …


My eyes are ever keen to spot fly-tipping. Fly-tipping is a lost art, lost on the general public, lost at …see?: the careful random scattering of detritus usually at night, Banksy-like, almost always uncredited or anonymous, never to grace the podiums of Tate Modern and always open to re-commissioning by the local district council. 

Fly-tipping is an artform that enrages the general public, Fly-tipping is controversial art, revolutionary art — always disregarded by the cognoscenti, and the world of art commerce that maintains it knows better. It’s Art Brut by Builders, Outsider Art by Insiders. True DIY art as in:  Dump It Yourself.

Fly-tippers create beside roadways, the quiet country lanes, the truncated spurs off unfinished motorways, or next to canals and lakes. When villages had ponds the Fly-tippist arranged and immersed bedsteads and bicycles in the depths, only to be dragged out years later to be newly appreciated by the shabby chic.

Today the Fly-Tipper works include fridges, microwaves, World Of Leather sofas and plastic bottles full of Irn-Bru that doesn’t taste like Irn-Bru. St. Martins Art School would write that their work is an interrogative dialogue that investigates the space left beside the tarmac and field.

I thought it looked like a record rack, 



Amongst the plastic bottles, carboard and jettisoned wood scrap.

There! sat what looked like a record rack.

A roundabout ahead, a swift retreat, an easy retrieve, back on myself I hoisted the exhibit into my van and drove off at great speed. 

A grand theft arteaux.

Oh record rack: why did your life nearly end beside the A12? 

Had your keeper got his dad to make the rack to sit beside the Garrad SP25 Music System? Was it Stereo?

Were you filled with The Tull, Fairports, Camel and Greenslade?

Was that sticker on your side from a celebrated Rag Week?

Did you manage to ban any bombs?

Were you later deemed obsolete in a world where CDs barely touched your sides, had your twelve inch vinyl and card treasures long hit the charity shop or landfill?

Or was it Jazz?

Yes, that’s it: Jazz! Did Mingus mingle with Miles? Did Bird sing with Blakey,? Did you catch the ‘Trane? Did you spot roll neck pullovers, duffle coats and open toe’d sandals? Or were you so much hipper than that? It was Impulse, Verve or Blue Note alone, surely.

You were made of three-ply ply, your skin darkened by reefer and time, darkened to let those spines ring out: “CBS! Elektra! Island! UA!” 

And there you sat by the road, 

the centre piece of a Fly-Tip-Immersive-Installation. 

You never had a Scandi-name from Ikea, not for you the wipe-clean white laminate modular mail-order bride, you are unique, built-to-order with Cascamite, nails and clad in two coats of yacht varnish, … but wait…

An apology, as I haul you up into my van, I’m sorry, it’s not yet over for you, no civvy street, no demob, it’s back to work as I dust you off, wash you down, hoist you up on my bookcase — you shall return to active service. 

You’ve been promoted: gone up in the world, as you embrace my late father’s recently cleared, much cherished Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and me.