Five Fascinating Artefacts

Work placement volunteer, Ellis Spicer, explores the new exhibition in the new library:

It’s already been an action-packed 2016 for the Special Collections and Archives at the University of Kent’s Templeman Library. Their ‘Comedy on Stage and Page’ exhibition is up and ready for perusal displayed in the newly built Templeman West Wing on Level 1 of the library. This exhibition embodies the crossover between the British Cartoon Archive and Stand-Up Comedy Archive, founded forty years apart but very much complementary to each other.

Throughout my time browsing the exhibition, my favourites began to emerge. You may agree, you may disagree. The exhibition features treasures from the collections at Kent, so come along to choose your favourites too!

  1. ‘The Young Ones’ Script, Alexie Sayle Collection

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My first favourite from the exhibition was Alexei Sayle’s script from episode 3 of the second and final series of the Young Ones. For me, this stood out as an item in the collection due to its personalised nature of what seems to be a generic script. This script reveals Sayle’s expressive, cursive handwriting and an absent-minded doodle of a car. It’s nice to know that even the rich and famous still get bored and doodle, whilst referring to themselves as Señor.

2. Bomber Blair, Leon Kuhn Collection

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My second favourite item from the exhibition is an image of Tony Blair that changes depending on the angle you look at it (for photos of different angles see below). I felt the poignant message that the artist, Leon Kuhn, was trying to portray about Blair’s foreign policy, especially once you know how anti-war the artist himself was. The collage style itself is also fascinating and really stood out for me, and the view from different angles resonated with me as the different angles such a complex situation can be looked at.

3. Tory Toff Speak (with subtitles), Chris Riddell (British Cartoon Archive)

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My third favourite item from the exhibition was the image ‘Tory Toff Speak’ with subtitles, featuring David Cameron and Boris Johnson. Parliamentary talk in debates is notoriously ridden with euphemisms due to MP’s potentially being ejected from debates for ‘unparliamentary language’. This image shows a ‘translation’ of that euphemistic dialogue.

4. Rendezvous, David Low (British Cartoon Archive)

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My fourth favourite item from the exhibition resonated with me due to my background as a History MA student specialising in the Second World War. Here Hitler and Stalin greet each other rather cordially, ‘doffing their caps’ to each other in a sign of deference. The two extreme political leaders greet each other politely yet their words disagree. Overall I feel the suggestion that the artists wonders whether the two polar opposite ideological leaders are that different at all….

5. Votes and violence, W.K Haselden (British Cartoon Archive)

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My last favourite item from the exhibition is a Suffragette cartoon by artist W.K.Haselden from 1909. It suggests that militant suffragette activities was not going to be successful, and that violence could not win the vote. With hindsight, women’s wartime contribution has been argued to be more influential, and I found it interesting how hindsight connected with the past views.

Overall, an intriguing exhibition that I thoroughly recommend you see for yourself on Level 1 of the West Wing of the Templeman Library.

Written by Ellis Spicer, student work placement in Special Collections and Archives.