No Big Bang | Jon Hillier
jon hillier

No Big Bang


For nearly three years now I’ve wanted to make some work about the death of Keith Vaughan, a brilliant British figurative painter who endured a lifetime’s struggle with his sexuality.

Vaughan committed suicide on 4th November, 1977 and wrote a poignant last diary entry as he waited for a cocktail of drugs to take effect.

The work I’ve imagined feels right – there’s depth to it and it looks good in my head, but I can’t settle on a suitable (respectful) way to show it. It’s possible there’s no good way. I’ve never used such personal or private source material before and I’m anxious to do it properly. Perhaps sharing his diary entry with you will get that initial reluctance out of the way and put some pressure on me to finally do something.

Keith Vaughan's last diary entry

The capsules have been taken with some whisky. What is striking is the unreality of the situation. I feel no different. R. returned to H.H yesterday. But suddenly the decision came that it must be done. I cannot drag on another few years in this state. It’s a bright sunny morning. Full of life. Such a morning as many people have died on. I am ready for death though I fear it. Of course the whole thing may not work and I shall wake up. I don’t really mind either way. Once the decision seems inevitable the courage needed was less than I thought. I don’t quite believe anything has happened though the bottle is empty. At the moment I feel very much alive. P.W rang and asked me to dine with him tonight. But I had already made the decision though not started the action. I cannot believe I have committed suicide since nothing has happened. No big bang or cut wrists. 65 was long enough for me. It wasn’t a complete failure I did some [At this point the words lapse into illegibility and stop].

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