Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Ronald Searle 1920 - 2011.

Very sad to read of the death of Ronald Searle this morning on the BBC website (also more on the NYT Site). Known widely for the St Trinian's characters, but perhaps not acknowledged as he should have been for his wider creative work, especially here in the UK. Some of my favourite work of his came from the film titles of that 60's movie "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines". Not widely referenced when his work is mentioned, probably not his most revered work, but they struck a chord with me when I saw the movie as a child - then having no idea what an illustrator did. Yet somehow those drawings had an impact at the time. It was with great pleasure that I rediscovered them in a Ronald Searle book in the college library years later. I also witnessed his astonishing draughtsmanship on display when I visited an exhibition of his drawings at The Imperial War Museum as a student. He was a prisoner of war and survived the forced labour of the infamous Burma Railway construction. Here he created an astonishing record of life under terrible circumstances. The drawings ache with the experience and are as powerful as any photograph could ever be. If you are not familiar with these images, they are worth seeking out.

When I was at Art College, I worshipped a Holy Trinity of three great contemporary artists and draughtsmen that I constantly referred to and (foolishly) tried to copy and mimic - failing miserably. They were Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe and of course Ronald Searle. Thank you for the inspiration and guidance Mr Searle.

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