The large numbers of people who had turned up at the Stockport festival and exhibition had caused an idea to hang about at the back of my mind: that I could bring together a big exhibition of that sort, but with a sharper political edge (I mean 'political' in the most fundamental sense, and in diverse manifestation.)
An exhibition would need funding. At the end of October 1988 I went to the House of Commons to meet Dennis Skinner, M.P. for Bolsover. He was wary at first (at one point looking sideways at me: "I think you writers and artists come in by a different door from us politicians" but after we had talked for a while (about one-and-a-half hours) he took me into the posterior regions of Parliament and on the 'phone to David Bookbinder, Leader of Derbyshire County Council (Dennis Skinner to me: "You'll get on well with him; he flies by the seat of his pants.")
Stripped of Illusion opened at Chesterfield at the end of March 1989: my fellow participants Steve Bell, Bryan Talbot, Oscar Zarate, (with Pat Mills and Angela Mills representing the Crisis team) all turned up for the opening; and Garth Ennis, writer of 'Troubled Souls' for Crisis, came across from Belfast on the ferry (and Alan Moore came too; though Bill Sinkiewicz's drawings for Alan's Brought to Light hadn't made it across the Atlantic. Not to worry, though.)
A rare and pleasant thing, to all come together in the one place at the one time; and Stripped of Illusion had its send off, to trundle about the country.
While Stripped of Illusion went about the country, Bryan Talbot went into the Harris Museum at Preston, and told them they should take the exhibition while it was on tour; so they did, and gained the largest attendance at an exhibition in the Harris's 100 year history; so that, five years later, come the 40th. Anniversary in 1993 of my creation of Bash Street and Minnie and Plum in 1953, the Harris were more than ready to put on the 'Minnie the Minx meets the Bash Street Kids' exhibition. And thus one thing leads to another, and so the exhibitions went on, and on...
Loopy link: James Joyce, Leo Baxendale and the Jesuits. The Jesuits asked James Joyce to become one of them and he turned them down; but the Jesuits had more sense than to ask Leo Baxendale to be one of them (see the relevant chapters in Pictures in the Mind).
UPDATE 27 February 1999: About a month ago my exhibits for the Hogarth exhibition arrived here through the post, then circa ten days ago my exhibits for the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition came back too; so those two exhibitions have evidently come to an end. The next exhibition will start at the opening of the new splendiferous Stroud Museum at the start of December 2000, and will be on for three months, through January and February 20001. I'll be curating the exhibition: beside my own work, I'll feature the beautiful best of other newspaper and comic artists. (Click on the Stroud Comic Strip Centre button.)
UPDATE mid-August 1998: Well, the exhibition at Stroud (see immediately below) has come and gone. But never mind; hang about and there'll be another along any minute.
Baxendale of Bash Street: an Interactive Exhibition, is at the Subscription Rooms (the George Room gallery) in Stroud, Gloucestershire, 20th. July - 1st. August 1998 and will coincide with the 60th. anniversary of The Beano. Put on by Stroud District Council, the exhibition contrasts the 'then' and 'now': on the gallery walls are Leo Baxendale's Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, and Bash Street from the 1950s and early 1960s, while the 1998 CD ROMIC plays on giant monitors within the gallery.
Also on the gallery walls, and again in contrast to the 1950s Beano drawings, is the BABY BASIL WALL COMIC (measuring 27 inches deep by 40 inches long - 702mmx1040mm). Leo Baxendale drew this in in 1984, halfway through his 7-year High Court action (May 1980 - May 1987) over his Beano creations ; then in 1998 Mel Clark, head of printmaking at Norwich Art College, has made a limited edition print from Leo Baxendale's original drawing. Copies of the limited edition Wall Comic (initialled and numbered by the artist) are on sale at the exhibition. Or they can be obtained by post direct from us, for £25 each (we will send them to you by registered post - package and postage free.) AND SEE OUR PRINTS AND BOOKS PAGES.
The 'SHOCK!' cross-Channel exhibition, with British and French artists celebrating the centenary of AUBREY BEARDSLEY (1872-1898) is at the Gardner Arts Centre, University of Sussex, Brighton 1 - 27 June 1998.
Leo Baxendale is one of the artists taking part in this tribute, and writes:
'I have been an admirer of Aubrey Beardsley's work for over half a century, and saw many of his drawings during the 1940s. Books of his work were more widely available, in bookshops and libraries during the 1940s and so-called 'conformist' 1950s, than they have been in the 1990s. When I began my National Service in the RAF in January 1949, I spent my fortnight's induction at Padgate near Warrington, and whiled away the tedium by borrowing a volume of his drawings from the camp library.
It was because of my admiration for his work that during the later reaches of my 'I LOVE You Baby Basil!' strip for The Guardian in the early 1990s, I began from time to time to incorporate Aubrey Beardsley's drawing into a few of my strips, and I found this particularly satisfying.
Here, then, as my part of the tribute to Aubrey Beardsley, are five of those Baxendale/Beardsley chimeras .'
The Aubrey Beardsley exhibition is put on by CARTOON COUNTY, the Sussex Association of Cartoonists and Comic Strip Artists (that's Steve Bell and his mates). For more details of the exhibition, and its teeming satellite events, contact David Edgar Booth on 01403 786770 (tel/fax) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
www.cartoonet.net and www.wiredsussex.com
Chronology of past exhibitions of Leo Baxendale's work:1989:Stripped of Illusion touring exhibition (UK).
1990:Angouleme (where a surreal Gallic version of the Bash Street classroom was built, with the classroom, empty by artificial moonlight, with white sand drifted across the sloping floor, and with my Bash Street drawings from the 1950s on its walls.)
March 1993:Treviso (in the medieval Casa dei Carraresi.)
1993-1997:The exhibition 'Minnie the Minx meets The Bash Street Kids' celebrating the 40th. Anniversary of Leo Baxendale's creation of Little Plum, Minnie the Minx, and The Bash Street Kids in 1953, opened at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery at Preston on 20th. October 1993 (Leo Baxendale thought up the first Bash Street while striding along Fishergate in Preston on the afternoon of 20th. October 1953, and set about drawing it that same evening.) The exhibition spent 3 months at the Harris, then 3 years on a national tour (the tour sponsored by the Royal Mail.) The exhibition finished trundling round the UK at the end of September 1997. The life-size papier mache figures of the Bash Street Kids and Minnie the Minx which went round with the exhibition are now on permanent display at the Harris.
Leo Baxendale, Steve Bell and Bryan Talbot are among the many whose work was exhibited at the Gardner Arts Centre (University of Sussex) in Brighton, June 2nd - June 28th 1997 to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of William Hogarth.
(The Brighton exhibition has since gone travelling - it was at Santiago, Chile, August - September, then back to the UK: at Crawley September - October. It opened at New Museum, Kidderminster, 25th. October, till 22nd. November 1997. Then to the National Theatre, South Bank, London, 1st. December - 24th. January 1998. After that, to Alfred East Gallery, Kettering, 31st. January - 7th. March 1998; thence to Salford Museum, Salford, 13th. June - 24th. July 1998.) And so on...
Leo Baxendale had several pieces in 'The 100 British Cartoonists of the Century' exhibition, at the British Cartoon Centre, London, 26 February - 12 April 2000; then the show shifted to The Centre for the Study of Cartoons and Caricatures, University of Kent, Canterbury, 19 April - 31 May 2000.
Leo Baxendale will have four exhibits in the exposition 'Les Maitres de la bande dessinee europeene', featuring the work of 75 artists from 13 European countries. There will be 300 exhibits - four from each artist, in the new gallery at the National Library of France, Paris, 10 October 2000 - 7 January 2001; it will then move to the National Comic-Strip Centre at Angouleme from January till the end of April 2001. (See the PARIS page elsewhere on our website for more detail.)
MINNIE, PLUM & BASH STREET UR 50 !
To celebrate the 50th. anniversary of Leo Baxendale's creation of Little Plum, Minnie the Minx and The Bash Street Kids for The Beano, Cartoon County (a group of artists based in Brighton) have organized a touring exhibition of his drawings:
Cartoon Study Centre, Canterbury, Kent - 2nd. August 2003 to 12th. September.
The Hawth, Crawley - 15th Sept to 18th. Oct.
Cartoon Art Trust Gallery, London - 5th. Nov to 24th. Dec.
Gateshead Library Gallery - 9th. Jan to 21st. Feb 04.
Kettering Alfred East Gallery - 28th. Feb to 27th. March 04.
Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 20th. April to 23rd. June 04.
Hartlepool - 26th. June to 22nd. August 04.
Hillingdon 7th. January - 4th. February 2005.
Hove Museum & Art Gallery 12th. February - 10th. April 2005.
All the drawings in the exhibition are by Leo Baxendale - with one exception. Minnie the Minx decided to right a wrong in history by awarding a posthumous Nobel Prize to Rosalind Franklin. Jacky Fleming has made a drawing to record this historic occasion.