Syd Barrett's true love shines through at art auction

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The Independent Online

He may have been one of the most influential rock musicians as a founder of Pink Floyd, but Syd Barrett's first and last love was painting. Not that Barrett showed much affection for his work, destroying most of his creations soon after completion.

The still life of lemons and bottles, pictured above, is therefore a rare and remarkable curiosity. Not only was it dated - "Jan 06" - and signed by Barrett, who preferred in later years to use his original first name of Roger, but it is probably the most recent to survive his destructive urges before his death from pancreatic cancer in July this year, aged 60.

No one can say for certain, but this may well be the last surviving painting of Barrett, the wayward genius for whom Pink Floyd wrote "Shine on You Crazy Diamond". Discovered in the house in Cambridge where he lived quietly for most of the past three decades, painting and gardening, it is due to be auctioned later this month alongside a few other paintings and a number of artefacts and curiosities from his later years - his bikes, his home-made stereo speakers, some bits of hand-made and painted furniture, a guitar, notebooks and his paints and easel. The house was sold in September for £300,000.

Barrett's surviving siblings have decided that the money raised from the auction will be used to fund art training in Cambridge. "Roger's first love was art and he always considered himself more an artist than a musician. We hope to use the money to set up some kind of bursary in the town for budding art students," said Rosemary Breen, Barrett's sister, a retired nurse and his main carer for many years. The problem is that nobody can predict precisely how much money might be raised from a sale of what might otherwise be destined for the tip. Mrs Breen said: "We have honestly no idea and the auctioneers have been unable to fix reserve prices; we simply do not know how much it will fetch."

Barrett's music remains an influence on his peers and a source of endless fascination to pop fans, including many not even born when he played with Pink Floyd in the late 1960s, before retiring to Cambridge, a victim of excessive LSD use. The auctioneers, Cheffins of Cambridge, believe the sale could be substantial, with interest expressed from Floyd followers from all over the world; some have booked flights from America.

According to his will, published last week, he left £1.2m to his two sisters and two brothers.

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