Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

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Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Fri Apr 15, 2011 10:25 am

I love this old ATU thread, if only for its deliberately misleading original title which certainly hooked in Johnny Mac:


Last edited by eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:13 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:37 pm

^

Thread replicated below in the event of link expiry:

********************************************************************



Wiki:

St Trinian's is a fictional girls' boarding school, the creation of English cartoonist Ronald Searle, that later became the subject of a popular series of comedy films.

The first cartoon appeared in 1942, but shortly afterwards Searle had to fulfill his military service. After the war, in 1946 he started making new cartoons about the girls, but the content was a lot darker in comparison with the previous years.

The school is the antithesis of the Enid Blyton/Angela Brazil-type posh girls' boarding school; its pupils are wicked and often well-armed, and mayhem is rife. The mistresses (as female teachers in Britain were known at the time) are also disreputable. Cartoons often showed dead bodies of girls who had been murdered with pitchforks or succumbed to violent team sports, sometimes with vultures circling; girls drank, gambled, and smoked. It is reputed that the gym-slip style of dress worn by the girls was closely modelled on the uniform of the school that Searle's daughter Kate attended, JAGS in Dulwich. The films implied that the girls were the daughters of gangsters, crooks, shady bookmakers and other low-lifes and the institution is often referred to as a "female borstal".

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:39 pm


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:40 pm


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:41 pm


"Well done, Elspeth. It was Deadly Nightshade."

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:43 pm


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:44 pm

It's worth noting Ronald Searle's post-WWII St Trinian's cartoons often contain images of death and violence.

This is unsurprising when you consider that Searle was an Allied prisoner of the Japanese during the construction of the Siam-Burma "Death Railway".

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:45 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8M5_7KNZiA

^ The Siam-Burma "Death Railway" connection casts the 1966 "Great St Trinian's Train Robbery" movie in a slightly odd light.

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:50 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2oZjQtwKd4
The Pure Hell of St Trinian's. The 6th form's striptease "Hamlet".

As the movie series continued, the 'saucy' elements tended to take precedence over the darker, more violent side.

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:56 pm

Searle eventually became disillusioned with the St Trinian's series and agreed to illustrate Geoffrey Willans' tales of 'archetypal' English schoolboy Nigel Molesworth:


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:57 pm

John McLaughlin wrote:

No fair pulling St Trinian's on us, when you know what we were expecting....

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:58 pm


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 3:59 pm

John McLaughlin wrote:

H'm. Any survivor guilt, d'you think?

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:01 pm

Eddie wrote:

I wouldn't presume to classify his mental state so neatly, but his war experiences undoubtedly had an effect on his work as an artist- which, I suppose, is the point of this thread.


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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:15 am

Ronald Searle obituary

Artist and cartoonist best known for St Trinian's and Molesworth

Michael McNay

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 January 2012 15.11 GMT


Ronald Searle drew his second St Trinian's cartoon while he was a PoW in Changi jail, Singapore, during the second world war. It was then published in Lilliput magazine in 1946. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

The artist Ronald Searle, who has died aged 91, will always be associated with St Trinian's, the anarchic girls' boarding school he created in pen and ink in the 1940s, which inspired a long-running series of films. Searle and St Trinian's go together like Petruchio and Kate; except that Searle created his own shrews and lived with their reputation for the rest of his life.

Before he left for second world war service, during which he would be held captive in Changi jail, Singapore, Searle posted off several cartoons to Kaye Webb, the assistant editor of Lilliput magazine. One of them showed a group of schoolgirls clutching hockey sticks gathered around a noticeboard; the caption read: "Owing to the international situation, the match with St Trinian's has been postponed." This is only obliquely about St Trinian's, but is always known as the first in the genre and has some of the characteristics of the mature version: flesh showing between the girls' black stockings and tunic, specs, pigtails, pointy noses. Searle thought no more about it until he picked up a tattered copy of Lilliput on a street in Singapore as the Japanese were invading and found his cartoon in it.

The first full-blown St Trinian's cartoon in Lilliput came after his release from Changi and was based on a real school (now defunct), St Trinnean's, in Edinburgh, which Searle had heard of when he was posted to Scotland during the phoney war. Much later, he turned down an invitation to stand for rector of Edinburgh University because, he said, he had done enough damage already to the city's academic reputation.

Searle was born in Cambridge, the son of a railwayman. He left full-time education at Cambridge central school at the age of 14 and started work as an office boy with a firm of solicitors. Doodling on legal documents proved a retrograde career move; Searle was sacked, but his new job packing boxes at the Co-op brought a handsome advance in salary with which he was able to pay for evening classes at Cambridge School of Art. Later, he won a scholarship and became a full-time student. He was 15 when the cartoonist of what was then the Cambridge Daily News left for Fleet Street, and Searle immediately sent in some drawings on spec; the editor was taken with the boy's talent and took a cartoon a week from him at half a guinea a time.

They were much better than the average evening newspaper cartoon, quite edgy about local politics and its pomposities, but there was nothing to suggest Searle's blazing graphic talent. In the April before the war broke out, Searle, who by now added commissions from the university magazine Granta to his growing experience, joined the Territorial Army.

Called to the colours with the Royal Engineers on the outbreak of hostilities in 1939, he spent a relatively relaxed period in Norfolk as a camouflage artist and then Kirkcudbright before embarking on a troopship to an undisclosed destination. The voyage took the Engineers, including Sapper Searle, filling sketchpads all the way in an already totally mature graphic style, to ports of call in Cape Town, Mombasa and the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean. Finally it became clear that they were bound for Singapore. They arrived just as General Yamashita's Japanese army came pouring down out of the Malayan jungle and across the straits to Singapore island. With calm obliviousness to his situation, Searle drew the new imperial conquerors even as they arrived in tanks, armoured trucks and cars, and on motorbikes and sidecars. It was the start of an astonishing enterprise.

From Changi, Searle embarked with other PoWs on a forced march to work on the death railway in Siam (now Thailand). He suffered variously beri beri, dysentery, ulcerated skin, and repeated bouts of malaria not much helped by a Japanese guard who drove a nail attached to a pickaxe handle into his body. A fellow PoW, the Australian writer Russell Braddon, remarked that they would only have known that Searle was dead if he had stopped drawing. "If you can imagine something that weighs six stone or so, is on the point of death and has no qualities of the human condition that are not revolting," Braddon wrote, "calmly lying there with a pencil and a scrap of paper, drawing, you have some idea of the difference of temperament that this man had from the ordinary human being."

The sketchbooks Searle brought home from Changi constitute a remarkable document of survival in the face of the grossest inhumanity and are probably the best visual record of war in the Imperial War Museum; they formed the basis for a book, To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939-45 (1986). His mastery of the fine balance between description and expression was by now fully achieved. He had become, almost incidentally, one of the finest topographical artists of the century.

If success seemed to come easily to him after his return to Britain, no one could begrudge it. Searle had drawn the second St Trinian's cartoon in Changi ("Hands up the girl who burnt down the east wing last night"); it was published in Lilliput in 1946 and established the school as a home of little monsters, wicked as sin.

Webb was still at the magazine, and soon Searle and she married. St Trinian's became a national institution, to the point where Searle began to hate his creation. He said later that he had never drawn that many St Trinian's cartoons but that the impression was abroad that he did little else. In fact, after the popular success of the novel The Terror of St Trinian's (1952), Searle balked at producing another in the sequence and instead, with his friend Geoffrey Willans, a BBC journalist, he devised Nigel Molesworth, semi-literate antihero of Down With Skool (1953) and its sequels; the gentler humour (some said whimsical) seemed to suit Searle better and his public lapped it up.

Other magazine work followed and Punch became his bread and butter; he repaid it well by helping to move the magazine on from the 19th century with covers of controlled extravagance, such as a clever birthday tribute to Picasso in October 1954. Then there were the Lemon Hart rum advertisements dominating the hoardings.

Searle himself was on his way to becoming one of the first media stars, but success became cloying as he found himself being drawn into appearances on television shows such as This is Your Life, so he threw it all up and went to start again in France. The decision was moved along a bit by a chance meeting in Paris with a pretty divorcee, Monica Koenig, later the second Mrs Searle. This gave him the steel to leave Webb when she was away with the children one weekend.

There was an angry divorce, in 1967, which probably confirmed Searle's decision to return to Britain only for visits to his ageing parents. In France he worked for Le Figaro Littéraire, and there were constant commissions from the US, where the fine glossy magazine Holiday and Henry Luce's Life competed for his work. Life opened the way to reportage with commissions to illustrate the John F Kennedy 1960 presidential campaign and to cover the trial in 1961 in Israel of Hitler's henchman Adolf Eichmann.

And then Searle accomplished a long-held ambition, to work for the New Yorker. Some of his fans saw a decline from now on, and it is true that there was a rococo prettiness about some of his work, though its manic qualities eschewed cosiness. He graduated in the 1960s from cartoons to colour covers such as the one of a man alone on a beach with his head buried in a newspaper as a sun rises, gorgeous as a Tiffany lamp; and there were his pet cats, as pampered, avaricious, ugly and dissatisfied as their owners. This work retained to a high degree a sense of poisonous unease which was his legacy from the war, and which he had felt in danger of losing at the Punch round table.

In 2004 he was appointed CBE and in 2006 was made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur. Monica died in July 2011; he is survived by his son John and daughter Kate from his first marriage.

Stephen Moss writes: In 2000, to mark his 80th birthday and a new Penguin anthology of his drawings, I visited Ronald Searle at his home in the gorgeous hill-top village of Tourtour in Provence. He hadn't been interviewed for years, and said most people in Britain thought he was dead or retired, even though he was still cartooning regularly for Le Monde. He disliked the insularity of Britain and rarely returned, but his house was full of carefully alphabetised videos of films and television programmes, as well as innumerable books his agent sent him, so I assumed he wanted reminders of home.

We ended up conducting the interview over two extended lunches at a nearby Michelin-starred restaurant, which he adored and where his adoration was reciprocated. We were joined at lunch by his garrulous wife Monica and Eamonn McCabe, the Guardian photographer, who had come to do the portrait for the article. I ended up with almost seven hours of tape, though Monica did about 90% of the talking.

The interview appeared in early December 2000, and a few weeks later a Christmas card arrived drawn by the great man, with Christmas and new year wishes in three languages inside, written in Searle's spidery script. He had added a PS: "Since your article appeared, both our letterbox and fax have overfloweth with enthusiastic reactions." He was surprised to find how much he was still admired and loved.

• Ronald William Fordham Searle, artist, born 3 March 1920; died 30 December 2011

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:19 am

Ronald Searle: a life in pictures

A new exhibition celebrates the work of Ronald Searle as he turns 90. Steve Bell on what makes him Britain's greatest living cartoonist

Steve Bell

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 9 March 2010 20.00 GMT


London – Revolt in Trafalgar Square (1964) by Ronald Searle. Photograph reproduced by kind permission of the artist and the Sayle Literary Agency

When I first wrote to Ronald Searle with the idea of an exhibition focusing on his reportage work, he was polite but sceptical, pointing out the difficulty of locating artwork that had been scattered across continents. The idea for a show at the Cartoon Museum, where I have been on the board of trustees for some years, fell into abeyance until the approach of his 90th birthday; this time we proposed a more general exhibition and I was delighted when he responded positively.

I was thrilled to the point of almost dislocating my own jaw when a portfolio bulging with Searle originals arrived at the door. This turned out to be only the first batch. The sheer quality was astonishing, and this work, mainly reportage, forms the core of the exhibition. Another generous loan from his daughter Kate and son John ensured that all the other aspects of his long career, including St Trinian's and Molesworth, were not neglected.

What I had not reckoned with was Searle's own meticulous preservation and annotation of his own collection, and the fact that he has clearly hung on to his own best work. His archive consists of papers, books, sketchbooks and thousands of drawings, along with works by Gillray, Rowlandson, Cruikshank, Leech and Pont, and most of it is now held at the Wilhelm Busch Museum in Hanover, Germany.

Anita O'Brien, the curator of the museum, and I had an opportunity both to visit and study the large archive in Hanover, and to talk to the man himself at his home in Provence. What struck me most of all was his utter commitment to his own art and his lifelong (and, I would say fully justified) conviction of its significance. In the past he has described his brand of graphic satire as "a minor, parasitic art form", but I don't believe a word of it. Searle has a very clear-eyed assessment of his worth.

He was talented enough in his youth to get paid work as a cartoonist on the Cambridge Daily News from the age of 15 in 1935. Soon he came to the notice of the editorial board of Granta, where he began to be used regularly. His work from this time is fairly conventional, owing more than a little to HM Bateman, and gives little inkling of his future style, but his seriousness of purpose is evident. He was beginning to earn nearly as much as his railwayman father, yet felt a strong need to improve his drawing, so secured himself a scholarship to attend the Cambridge School of Art, where he studied and drew constantly until the war intervened. He enlisted in the Royal Engineers in 1939 and carried on drawing.

The German artist George Grosz was "a very great influence" and a small but beautiful volume of his work accompanied Searle throughout his wartime travails, for, other than a brief spell of action manning the rearguard of the British retreat down the Malay peninsula, he spent the entire war as a prisoner of the Japanese at Changi on Singapore island and as a forced labourer on the notorious Burma railway in what was then Siam.

This profound and brutal experience changed everything for him and is still clearly with him to this day. The drawings he made and managed to preserve, at great risk, provide not only a unique record of a hellish experience but also demonstrate an astonishing artistic transformation.

He told me: "I desperately wanted to put down what was happening, because I thought if by any chance there was a record, even if I died, someone might find it and know what went on. And in the end I was very lucky. At times I was so ill that I couldn't draw at all. You're doing 16 hours a day rock breaking and you're exhausted. You come back and have a bowl of rice. You have no light, but you have fire, a big fire keeping the mountain lions away, and snakes perhaps, and by the light of the fire, I made the drawings. I didn't have a watch or anything, so you just lie down in the tent until you were dragged out the next morning to go back to the rock breaking. And so all these drawings, some of them very bad, were all I could do in a state of exhaustion."

After years of war and starvation, Searle returned with two things driving him on: "What can I eat . . . and how can I live?" His comic work had continued, but had now acquired a darker quality. It soon found outlets, and St Trinian's, the first cartoon of which was drawn in Changi, became a huge success. Through the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s, his reportage continued, some of it real, some of it imagined, but all of it mercifully now paid for by a whole array of publications from Punch and the News Chronicle in the UK through to Holiday and Life magazine in the US.

Searle still works every day, his pen scratching and swooping and his ideas still flowing. Until only two years ago his work still appeared regularly in Le Monde and, he says, it is budgetary cutbacks that have caused him to be laid off, rather than any diminution of enthusiasm or energy on his part.

These most recent works are in themselves a kind of imaginative reportage, anatomising the great issues of the day in full, resplendent absurdity. His line is still vibrant, still questing, and drawing still absorbs him utterly. Searle and his wife Monica, a couple bubbling with zest for life, show no signs of flagging before his centenary. Perhaps by then his unique body of work will be given the space and resources that it deserves in one of the great galleries of the country of his birth. It is a depressing indictment of the condition of our visual culture that the Searle archive should now be ensconced in Hanover without so much as a batsqueak from any of our great art institutions of state, who had the opportunity to acquire it for the nation but never took it up.

What marks Searle's work out is genuine wit, intelligence and unabashed ambition. He is our greatest living cartoonist, with a lifelong dedication to his craft unequalled by any of his contemporaries. His work is truly international, yet absolutely grounded in the English comic tradition. It is the highest form of conceptual art, but devoid of any of the pretence that usually accompanies such a notion. Which is to say it is extremely funny, but not all the time. It cuts to the essence of life.

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:23 am

Ronald Searle was our greatest cartoonist – and he sent me his pens

Without Searle and St Trinian's, it's impossible to imagine Scarfe or Steadman – and the generations they inspired in turn

Martin Rowson

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 3 January 2012 17.42 GMT


Ronald Searle: 'easily the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century' Photograph: Eamonn Mccabe for the Guardian

About a year ago I received an unsolicited package from France addressed in an oddly familiar, spidery hand. It was from Ronald Searle, and contained a box of pens he had bought in 1963 and had found at the back of a cupboard.

In the attached note (along with a scrap of file paper on which he'd done some doodles to check the nibs) Searle said he thought I'd like them as he had quite enough pens to see him out. For any British cartoonist this was the equivalent of being given a high-five by God.

Roughly a year earlier Searle had given Steve Bell a box of pens (either before or after he drank Steve under the table) during a visit to Searle's home in France to prepare for a 90th birthday retrospective at the Cartoon Museum, requesting they be passed on to me.

Perhaps it was my effusive letter of thanks that made him think of me again; perhaps he was just clearing out some clutter and, ingrained with the kind of thrift you learn during three years as a Japanese prisoner of war, could never throw away something someone else might want. Either way, I felt like Cruikshank must have done when he was given Gillray's old drawing table.

Searle was, after all, easily the greatest cartoonist of the 20th century. Professional since his teens (though just a townie schoolboy, he got commissioned by Eric Hobsbawm to draw for Granta in Cambridge in the 1930s), in the decade following the war he managed, with St Trinian's and Molesworth, to weave himself into the DNA of the nation.

It is interesting to note how men of Searle's generation – Spike Milligan being another notable example – translated the unimaginable trauma of the war into stuff like St Trinian's or The Goon Show. And how distinctly unsettling it is to when you look at the drawings he produced in secret on the Burma Railway, and then see direct visual quotations of torture and beheadings in his later St Trinian's cartoons.

Even if most Britons will remember him as 'the St Trinian's cartoonist', Searle was much more than that. Without him, it's almost impossible to imagine cartoonists like Scarfe or Steadman or the subsequent generations inspired by them.

In 2005 I presented a BBC4 documentary on Searle in which I did some drawing in his style, trying to capture the peculiar magic of his defining blotchy, beautiful, raggedy, cross-nibbed "line". When I got it almost right I recognised something else: other cartoonists (myself included) can twist a nib just so to snag on the paper and release a spatter of blots that invariably denote blood or shit. But when Searle did it, they were champagne bubbles. With a supply of the master's nibs, maybe one day I'll pull off the same trick.

Martin Rowson is a cartoonist for the Guardian

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Re: Gymslipped schoolgirls misbehave (The Art of Ronald Searle)

Post  eddie on Sun Jan 08, 2012 3:53 am

My hero: Ronald Searle by Quentin Blake

'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'

Quentin Blake

guardian.co.uk, Friday 6 January 2012 22.55 GMT


"O.K. Make it a Bollinger '29" A detail from St Trinian's. Photograph: Chris Beetles Gallery, St James, London

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.

• Ronald Searle died on 30 December.

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