Laughter in the gallery

Giles: Drawn to Suffolk is at Gallery 1, The Town Hall Galleries. Ipswich until January 17.Giles, Suffolk's most famous cartoonist, was a national institution whose comic creations amused millions; including my father.

Giles: Drawn to Suffolk is at Gallery 1, The Town Hall Galleries. Ipswich until January 17.

Giles, Suffolk's most famous cartoonist, was a national institution whose comic creations amused millions; including my father. As a young child I remember sitting on Daddy's lap as we both giggled over the cartoon books. Those featuring the Family, Giles' most enduring creation, were a favourite. Grandma, portly and stern, was constantly beset by a brood of naughty children. Compared to those mischievous devils I felt like a little angel.

This exhibition coincides with a major viewing of Giles' creations at the Cartoon Museum in London; and features work loaned from the Carl Giles Collection and private collections.

The show presents a comprehensive selection of Giles' cartoons, many inspired by his close links to Suffolk. Giles lived at Hillbrow Farm, near Witnesham for much of his life. There is also a fabulous collection of personal memorabilia, including signed photographs from admirers like ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn and actress Joan Collins; prints, books, pamphlets, ceramics, and dolls and sculptures of Giles' most famous creations.


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It's also great to see a mock-up of Giles' work space; drawing board, pens, pencils, inks, files, and shelves stocked with books. Giles sometimes worked from his home but most frequently from offices in Queen Street and Princes Street, Ipswich.

Among the real gems in the show are Artwork ForThe Ipswich and Suffolk New Theatre. The image shows a demolition site, the frame of a stage door with a rather darling female luvvie walking through it, oh those press and fans, and an aspiring Hamlet having unearthed a skull.

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There's also an hysterical cartoon of a 'Mother To Be Contest', complete with witty caption, some very funny RNLI Christmas Cards, a cartoon of a GI beset by want-to-be English maiden stowaways, and various illustrations making fun of the Establishment. Many of the cartoons featured in the Daily Express, others are from Giles' numerous and highly successful cartoon books.

As well as being a fun, and light hearted exhibition, one that the whole family can enjoy, the show also chronicles England's history from the 30s to the 90s. It provides a fascinating insight into how society has changed. More importantly it reminds us all that the most important medicine in life is to have a good giggle.

Sonia Carvill

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