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by Jonesy

Six drawing lessons artist Matt Jones learned from Ronald Searle

March 25, 2016 in General


Some fascinating insights into the working methods of the master, Ronald Searle, from a man who spent a decade studying and collecting the great man’s art.

Matt Jones, who has developed a reputation of his own as a story artist working in animation, says Searle is often described as “one of the greatest graphic satirists of the twentieth century”. Very few would argue with that description.


Take the time to click the link to this article on the Cartoon Brew website where Matt Jones’ astute observations are accompanied by a fascinating 1958 short film showing Searle at work. (Note in particular the upside down nib technique!)

Matt Jones’ ‘Ronald Searle’s America’ is available for purchase here.

Thanks to Glenn Marshall.

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by Jonesy

‘Ronald Searle’s America’ – new book out now

January 18, 2016 in General

Lovers of the great man’s work (and there are many) will be delighted to learn that a new book containing Searle’s observations on all things Stateside has just been published by Fantagraphics.
Lavishly produced, this tome does not come cheap. However it does contain illustrations in Searle’s “trademark satirical and matchlessly virtuosic style” – and many of them have been virtually unseen since the 1960s. Edited by the passionate Searle scholar Matt Jones, whose Perpetua: Ronald Searle Tribute website has become the foremost resource for Searle fans, the book also features a running commentary by Searle himself (as well as his wife Kaye Webb).
Thanks to Glenn Marshall.
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by Jonesy

Ronald Searle exhibition in his hometown

August 26, 2015 in General

From the Ronald Searle Blog:

Ronald Searle (1920-2011) is among Britain’s most popular and celebrated graphic satirists.

Born in Cambridge, Searle is best known as the inventor of the fictional girls’ school St. Trinian’s (1948) and for his collaborations on Geoffrey Willans’ Molesworth series (1953- 58). However, as this exhibition shows, he had a long and productive career across a range of different genres. Searle worked as a war artist, but also made drawings for book and magazine illustration, travel reportage, theatre, film, medals and political caricature. Fuelled by visits to the Fitzwilliam Museum during his formative years, he had keen sense of his own place in the history of caricature – a selection of work by the caricaturists he most admired will be on display in a complementary exhibition in the Charrington Print Room (16).
This exhibition is drawn from a recent gift of the artist’s work, generously presented to the Museum by his children in 2014.
An associated exhibition Coming Home: Ronald Searle and Cambridge School of Art, curated by Professor Martin Salisbury, will run concurrently at Anglia Ruskin University’s Ruskin Galleryfrom 13 October – 19 November.
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by Royston

Remembering Ronald Searle

May 22, 2012 in Events, News

Ronald Searle Punch cover

The Chris Beetles Gallery is hosting the exhibition Ronald Searle Remembered, in memory of the cartoonist who died in December.

The show, which starts today, features more than 400 works by Searle, who is widely regarded as the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century. It runs until June 9.

It includes some of the clandestine drawings he produced as an inmate of Changi Gaol, the notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp,  Punch covers, such as the one above, plus book and magazine illustrations.

St Trinian’s and Molesworth are represented, of course, alongside adverts for Lemon Hart rum and Searle’s reportage on many issues of the day. Also included are unpublished letters that provide new insights into the life of the great man.

Ronald Searle letter

Detail from a letter sent from Singapore, September 21, 1945

The gallery has produced an accompanying 200-page fully illustrated catalogue, featuring newly researched essays and notes. For more details, and to view the exhibition online, visit the Chris Beetles Gallery website.

After Searle

January 3, 2012 in Comment

Bloghorn: Ronald Searle in Le Monde

Many cartoonists could get sentimental about the work of the late Ronald Searle who has died, aged 91.

Bloghorn - A present from Searle

The long list of the self-described graphic satirist’s achievements are well documented here, here and here. Bloghorn also recommends a visit to the long-running Perpetua blog, especially for anyone not familar with the full range of the man’s work.

Some of the great outpouring of affection for the artist since news of his death can be read here and some we have also clipped some reactions for this post.

Bloghorn: what is a cartoonist?

Many professionals have responded to the news, as below, and often with reflections on Searle’s experences in the prison camps of the Second World War. Much of his work from his time in the army is held at the Imperial War Museum archive in London.

Bloghorn: Searle WW2

There are many terrific tributes and retrospectives, some provided by last year’s Cartoon Museum exhibition, for which Searle was persuaded to give a rare television interview. We also recommend a listen to to BBC Radio’s Desert island Discs programme talking to the artist in 2005.

Speaking on behalf of the Professional Cartoonist’s Organisation, Andy Davey, the chairman, said:

He was one of the greats. Influenced everybody. It’s hard to know where to start — he worked in every area — from The New Yorker to Le Monde, children’s illustration to reportage, advertising to books and excelled in all, leaving his elegant, easily identifiable mark. 

And on behalf of its sister organisation, the British Cartoonist’ Association, Martin Rowson said:

Immensely sad news about the death of Ronald Searle, tinged with a kind of insane gratitude that we had him for so long, particularly as he probably thought he was going to die when he was 19 or 20, as a prisoner of the Japanese. But if he had, the whole of post-war British cartooning would have been immeasurably poorer, not just because of his work, but because of his influence.

John Jensen, chairman of the BCA, added;

I feel I have lost a lifelong companion and mentor. Ancient cartoonists like myself remember Searle’s first post-war cartoons making an appearance in Lilliput back in 1946, and then spreading everywhere. Right from the off it was clear that this was the new boy on the block. A very big block.

We’ll finish with a present given by Ronald Searle as reported by a grateful recepient on Twitter:

Bloghorn - Ronald_Searle_a_gift

And yes, of course, she kept the original.

Graphic Satirist Ronald Searle dies

January 3, 2012 in Comment

Ronald Searle, widely judged by his colleagues in cartooning to be the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century has died aged 91 at his home in the south of France.

Bloghorn recommends exploring these words and pictures from the UK National Cartoon Museum Searle show of last year.

We shall be returning to the subject of the great man’s work.

Ronald Searle on Ronald Searle

March 11, 2010 in Comment

Interviewed by, wait for it, Nick Glass* for Channel 4 News.
Bloghorn says watch for the full explanation.

Steve Bell on Ronald Searle

March 10, 2010 in Comment

Cartoonist Steve Bell, who curated the current Ronald Searle show at the Cartoon Museum writes here about the experience. You can read more of Bloghorn’s coverage about the three Searle shows currently on in London here.

Ronald Searle shows open in London

March 2, 2010 in Comment

In the spirit of our recent coverage of the Ronald Searle exhibitions, we are pleased to publish Martin Rowson‘s article from the exhibition catalogue produced by the Cartoon Museum.

In 1999 Ronald Searle was judged, by his fellow cartoonists, to be the greatest cartoonist of the 20th Century. It’s a judgement I thoroughly endorse, though as someone who was brought up on Searle, like most people of my generation born in the late 50s and early 60s, I thought distant worship would be as close as I ever got to him. After all, Searle famously scarpered when I was about one, so I, along with other British cartoonists, could only ever venerate him as the King Across the Water.

Still, when I was approached in 2005 to front a BBC4 documentary about Searle, I jumped at the chance, even though he made clear very early on he wanted nothing whatsoever to do the making of the film or anyone involved with it. That’s his prerogative, and my reverence for him includes a deep respect for his desire for a bit of peace and quiet. Nonetheless, the programme went ahead without him, and I enjoyed it for the most part (although, as I’d decided to speak to camera unscripted, to capture a greater sense of immediacy, there were occasions when the demands of the producer that I repeat a line 20 times meant that by the end I kept forgetting it, as well as forgetting what it could possibly mean.)

Part of the gig – part of the reason they’d got me to do it in the first place – was that, when pressed, I can draw a little bit like the master, and I did several pieces to camera sitting at a drawing board and replicating his style. One riff I went off on was the idea that Searle had invented his version of Hogarth’s famous “Line of Beauty”, which in his case was the “Angle of Beauty”, which I claimed was an acute angle of 37 degrees (I made that bit up, but you get the point) which can be seen repeated again and again in his depiction of feet and noses. I argued further that feet and legs – be they spindly, black-stockinged St Trinian’s legs, or the tree-trunk legs of the Masters at St Custard’s – were, for Searle, the windows to the soul.

All that may or may not be true, but I discovered a deeper truth when I was reproducing the standard Searle script for the “Entr’-Act” cards for the programme. Apart from the fact that each letter tended to twist my nibs into unusability, I soon realised something about that gnarled, nobbly lettering: that without the way Searle drew and wrote, most of the best British post-war cartooning would be unimaginable. Every line of Steadman’s or Scarfe’s had its origins in Searle’s blots. Those blots had shown us all the true path.

Anyway, we finished the film and it was duly broadcast – though in post-production I felt they added too many interviews about his life, and didn’t concentrate enough on his drawing, but what do I know? The production company sent him the film, and were greeted with silence. But unreciprocity from your gods is what you should expect, so I didn’t mind that much.

But then, a few weeks after the programme’s first transmission, I got a letter, sent to my home, addressed in a strangely familiar handwriting. It was a personal letter from Searle, thanking me for placing the garlands on his brow and apologising for the fact that he’s be dead by the time it was my turn. The letter is now framed and hangs in its place of honour next to the only Searle original my wife could afford to buy me. Better yet, in the few interviews he’s given since, he’s been kind and generous enough to say he likes my work. So happy 90th birthday, Mr Searle, from a very humble and grateful admirer…

Bloghorn thanks The Cartoon Museum and Martin for permission to publish here in advance of tonight’s opening.

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by Royston

Hats off to Searle at bookshop exhibition

March 1, 2010 in General

A small exhibition of original cartoons by Ronald Searle, all drawn for for Sarah Kortum’s book The Hatless Man: An Anthology of Odd & Forgotten Manners, is at Maggs Bros Antiquarian Books, 50 Berkeley Square, London from this Wednesday, March 3.

March 3 is the 90th birthday of Searle, and as we mentioned here on the Bloghorn last week, there are also two major exhibitions in London to mark the event. The Hatless Man, which was published in the US in 1995, was a compilation of more than 700 of the most irate and amusing condemnations of impropriety, taken from nearly 200 etiquette books from the 14th Century to the present. It featured 35 Searle drawings. The selling exhibition at Maggs Bros Antiquarian Books runs for three weeks. Visit their website.

Thanks to Anita O’Brien at the Cartoon Museum.