Love and survival at charity exhibition

Ronald Searle's Mrs Mole drawings

Valentine’s Day seems like an appropriate time to mention an exhibition of drawings created by a cartoonist out of love for his wife.

Les Très Riches Heures de Mrs Mole, which features cartoons by Ronald Searle drawn for his wife Monica during her chemotherapy, opens at the the Cartoon Museum in London this Thursday (February 17).

In 1969 Monica was diagnosed with breast cancer and given only a few months to live, but she was offered a course of experimental chemotherapy. Searle sought some way of supporting his wife during this time. “I have only my talent for drawing,” he said. “So I drew”.

He produced a series of 47 drawings, one for each treatment. As Monica lay on her sick bed in Paris the drawings transported her to the world of her alter-ego, Mrs Mole, who busily potters about a dream home in a Provençal village. “I would lie in bed, living the life he created in the pictures,” Monica said.

The complete 47 drawings, which were never originally intended for publication, will be on display. They follow Monica’s journey from 1969 to 1975, chronicling a story of survival against the odds.

The museum will be working with Breast Cancer Campaign, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support and Wellbeing of Women. Information on cancer, the work of the charities and how people can support them will be available in the gallery.

The exhibition, which was previously seen at the Foundling Museum, as reported on Bloghorn last month, runs until March 20

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