Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The V&A’s birthday

Last June the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrated its 150th birthday with a special project where 150 designers, architects, photographers and artists each contributed a page to a commemorative book. Here is Searle's contribution-
'Always with it' (2007)

"I remember when I first met Ronald Searle, just about 60 years ago. The BBC at that time had a radio series in which a hopeful beginner was taken to meet a well-established professional. I can still remember the drawing, by Searle himself, in the Radio Times – the artist crouched awkwardly in some primitive stocks, about to be quizzed by a spotty infant, who was me. At 20, I had done effectively nothing; Searle, only 12 years my senior, was already a star, known internationally, and in the studio of his striking modern house in Bayswater I lacked the confidence to ask the most important question: What kind of pen-nibs do you use?
Perhaps strangely, I have never actually met Searle again since that time, which doesn't mean that I haven't over the years had a vivid awareness of what he has been up to: practically everything that anyone who does illustration aspires to. Of course, retrospectively, those astonishing drawings that he brought back from the Japanese prison camps; and then the comedy of St Trinians and Molesworth; more reportage from refugee camps; wonderful caricature, particularly in the theatre, and then over years of world travel what amount to wholesale caricatures of cities and countries; years of satire in the pages of Le Monde. And now I have on the table in front of me Les Très Riches Heures of Mrs Mole, the drawings he did for his wife Monica, which shows how sensitive a satirist he can be.
His reputation is international; but I think many of us will regret that he has not been better appreciated in his own country. In the 60s he left for a new life in France; a country which as soon as 1973 – 40 years ago – mounted a full-scale exhibition of his work in the Bibliothèque Nationale. By contrast no major institution in Britain has managed to do anything of the same sort; disappointing not least in that he is a striking representative of a great British tradition, of something we do well, and where he stands with his own heroes, George Cruikshank and Thomas Rowlandson.
In 2007 the Victoria & Albert Museum celebrated its 150th birthday and invited 150 artists and designers each to contribute a page to a memorial volume. The Searle page – the most energetic page in the book – shows Albert and Queen Victoria in full 19th-century rig, but nevertheless dancing like crazy. At the top lefthand corner of the drawing, in Searle's distinctive handwriting, are the words: "V and A: always with it."
Searle the artist was with it throughout the whole of his prolific working life, to our benefit and inspiration. A graphic hero.


Joe Corrao 4 Eyed Animation said...

Best Searle site around...good work!

cortes said...

que buenas ilustraciones...felicitaciones,,,tienes mucho talento,