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Welcome back to ‘obscene’ postcards

September 23, 2011 in Comment, News

Bob Wilkin postcardBloghorn is pleased to report the recent Margate cartoon postcard exhibition will be back on display in the British Cartoon Archive Gallery, at the University of Kent, from 24 September. This time it will run for six weeks.

The original exhibition ran for only ten days but will get a longer run in nearby Canterbury.

Details here and you can read the original report on Bloghorn here.

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by Royston

Obscene postcards? You be the judge

July 18, 2011 in Events

Saucy postcard by Bob Wilkin
An exhibition of seaside postcards that were banned by local councils in the 1950s opens in Margate this week.

I Wish I Could See My Little Willy named after a postcard by Bob Wilkin, above, enraged the authorities in the prudish post war years. The show is being held at the Pie Factory gallery, opposite Margate’s old magistrate’s court where the publishers of the day would have been prosecuted.

Across the country the authorities confiscated and destroyed thousands of ‘‘saucy’’ postcards as they feared that that the nation’s morals were in decline after the Second World War.

The free exhibition, which opens on July 23 and runs until August 2, is held in conjunction with the British Cartoon Archive, which has been digitising the postcards and putting them online, along with their associated obscene publications index cards, as seen above.

Nick Hiley of the British Cartoon Archive, which is based at the University of Kent in nearby Canterbury, told Bloghorn:

‘‘We are organising the exhibition with the Dreamland Trust in Margate. I will be giving a talk in the magistrates’ court where the cards were condemned — they have a wonderful witness box on casters that I hope to lecture from.’’

The old court is now the Margate Musuem. The talk is at 2pm on July 30. The organisers are hoping to follow it with an airing of the Radio 4 play Getting The Joke by Neil Brand (BBC permission pending). It tells the story of the trial of Donald McGill, acknowledged master of the saucy postcard, in 1953.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2011

April 14, 2011 in Events, News

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival kicks off tonight with a drop-in cartoon workshop at the Bear Steps Gallery at 4.30pm, and a talk by Dr Nick Hiley from the British Cartoon Archive on the cartoons of Carl Giles at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery at 7pm, tickets £5.

In the meantime, the exhibition Personal Bests opened on Monday (also at the Bear Steps Gallery) and features cartoons on the Festival’s Olympic theme, including these:

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Pete Dredge

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Chichi Parish

Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Noel Ford
Bloghorn Shrewsbury 2011 Olympics cartoon © Royston Robertson

 

Come back to Bloghorn for coverage of the festival as it happens, or follow the hashtag #shrews11 on Twitter.

 

Making the Giles cartoon exhibition

November 6, 2008 in General


This cartoon courtesy of the Cartoon Museum, the University of Kent and the trustees of the Giles collection.

Bloghorn interviews Nick Hiley, curator of the exhibition Giles: One of the Family which is now on at the Cartoon Museum in central London.

Who had the original idea for a Giles retrospective?

As soon as the Giles collection arrived at the British Cartoon Archive in 2005 it was clear that we needed to celebrate with a London exhibition, and the Cartoon Museum was the most appropriate place to hold it. We have spent the last eighteen months cataloguing and digitising Giles’ enormous collection of artwork, correspondence, and ephemera. This exhibition puts on display some of the things we have found.

How long has it taken to put the Giles exhibition together?

In a sense it has taken five years, as it was in 2003 that we began looking at the possibility of giving the Giles collection a permanent home in Canterbury, and making it accessible to the public and to researchers. The collection was in storage for ten years after Giles’ death in 1995, and it was always our aim to make the artwork available for exhibition and display once it reached the British Cartoon Archive. The actual exhibition planning and selection, and the writing of the catalogue, took about six months.

How did the University of Kent get involved?

We’ve been interested in the Giles collection for a long time. The University’s cartoon archive was set up in 1973, and after Giles’ death in 1995 the archivist approached the Cartoon Trustees, to whom Giles left his collection, with the suggestion that his artwork should come to Kent. At the time they had hopes that the collection might remain in East Anglia, where Giles lived and worked, but when we approached them again they were happy to donate the collection to us. A second exhibition – “Giles: Drawn to Suffolk” – is opening in Ipswich on November 8, and we do hope that a permanent display of Giles material may one day be established in Ipswich, where he had a studio for many years.

What does promoting the work of a cartoonist who has died achieve?

I hope that it brings the enjoyment of his work to new audiences, and gives existing fans a new insight into how he worked, by displaying his original artwork. Giles’ correspondence does include letters from other cartoonists and illustrators, expressing admiration for the way that he could arrange complex scenes in a simple visual way, so I hope that present-day cartoonists can learn something from seeing his work. He could draw cartoons of the Family where there is action across the whole frame, or on different floors of the house, but the focus is never lost.

What would Giles have seen if he was watching the last-minute preparations for the show?

He would probably have laughed a lot, and grumbled a lot as well. He would laugh because we reconstructed his studio, using all the easels, paints, pencils, etc. which came with the collection, even down to his glasses and his cardigan on the back of his chair. I’m sure he would tell us we had got it all in the wrong place! He would undoubtedly grumble, because he never liked his original artwork, partly because he was a perfectionist and partly because he regarded the printed cartoon as the finished work. His originals were drawn for reduction, and he thought that by comparison with the printed version they looked as if they had been “drawn with an umbrella”! They don’t seem like that to me, but to show that they are part of a reproductive process we have used specially made frames that show the whole artwork, including Giles’ notes and the blockmaker’s scribbles in the margins.

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