My grandfather Leonid was a formidable figure. Not the easiest to get along with. He was however an incredible craftsman and artist, and I like to believe that most of that creative flair that runs through my brain is mostly to do with him. He sparked and nurtured my love of drawing.
I am not sure where he got the fly ashtray from which we always called simply Mukha (Fly in Russian). I wish I'd asked before he died. It says it costed 10 roubles at the time. Which would have been a sixth of an average wage in the 1960s Soviet Ukraine. I was obsessed with it from an early age, and I strongly suspect it triggered my love for slightly weird, visceral aesthetics. When I was eight he clocked my obsession with it and gave it to me to store my 'treasures' in. I think some of the treasures were Donald Duck gum wrapping paper-a novelty in the newly-formed Ukraine. The fly is now with me in London and is now a treasure in itself. It would be one of those things I'd save if my flat went on fire. Although it'd probably the only thing that would survive blazing flames. It's so solid and heavy - a real industrial beauty of an object.