Any Ronald Searle fans here?
The Cartoon Museum in London are holding a Ronald Searle exhibition (arguably one of Britain's greatest living cartoonists). He lives in France now and is celebrating his 90th birthday. Steve Bell, the cartoonist (and one of the trustees of the Museum) and Anita O'Brien, the Museum's curator, had the rare privilege of visiting Searle in Haute-Provence and interviewing him. Most of his archive was donated to the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover, Germany some years ago, and they have lent a large portion of this exhibition. Searle himself lent many pieces too. There are rarely-seen drawings by Searle when he was a POW in Changi, on loan from the Imperial War Museum. The Museum is also hosting a number of talks about Searle, one of which will be a rare chance to see some of his animated cartoons.
I was quite blown away by the exhibition. Searle perhaps isn't as celebrated in the UK as he once was, but his influence has been immense - you only have to see the work to appreciate this. He's certainly appreciated more in America, in France (where he lives) and also in Germany (where is archive is kept).
The Cartoon Museum is a great little place buried away in the back streets of Bloomsbury. It's quite small but manages to cram a lot in. The slant is on British cartoons, comic strips and caricature and has a wide range of work from Gillray and Hogarth to Dan Dare and the Beano. They receive no public funding and survive thanks to the fundraising activities of the trustees and staff, existing to preserve and display the work of British artists to the general public. They also host educational services, workshops and talks. It's not a private gallery, like Chris Beetles Gallery, so they don't sell artwork. There's a pretty good shop in the entrance lobby before you enter the museum which sells books, posters and cards.
If you're not able to see this exhibition, there is a well-written catalogue accompanying it. It costs £14.99 plus p&p (contact the Cartoon Museum
to order one). It's a real collector's item and a reproduces much of what's in the exhibition - a very nice collection of the artist's work.
The Cartoon Museum
35 Little Russell Street
London WC1A 2HH.
Telephone 0207 580 8155.
Email: info [at] cartoonmuseum.org
Tuesday- Saturday 10.30-5.30.
Sunday 12.00 - 5.30
(Closed on Mondays including Bank Holiday Mondays)
£3 Students with valid student ID
Free to Under-18s, Art Fund Members and
Friends of the Cartoon Museum
Some relevant links:
An excellent Ronald Searle tribute site
run by Matt Jones, who will be giving the talk about Searle's animations.
Steve Bell's article from The Guardian
A recent interview with the man himself, from Channel 4 News