Monday 29 August 2016

Frank Bellamy at Kettering exhibition ended.

I managed to get to the Comics Unstripped Exhibition at the Alfred East Gallery, Kettering previously mentioned a few weekends ago.  I must apologise for the blurry photos. I must get in the habit of cleaning my phone's camera before taking photos!

Paul Holder and I met Alan Davis - yes that Alan Davis! - on Saturday 30 July, more about this meeting another time, promise! We both went in to look around the exhibition, this being the first time I had been to the gallery, despite its history of showing Bellamy's work one way or another.

The gallery has two large very open exhibition spaces and all walls had artwork on them.
Biography of Bellamy
The biography is uncredited unfortunately but is substantially correct. It mentions Bellamy's call-up during WWII to "Auckland" - this being West Auckland, near Bishop Auckland - Deerbolt Camp to be exact. And it implies John [sic] Pertwee was a collector of Frank's artwork which is incorrect, although Jon Pertwee did write to say how nice the cover Bellamy did for the Radio Times January 1972 was.

Bellamy nearly takes up a wall
 One of the regrettable features of the exhibition was the labeling. I fully understand some fans might not want to be identified as owning the artwork, but some art were evidently prints, not originals and these were not differentiated. "Montgomery of Alamein" appeared to be prints, as did "Heros the Spartan" and the Disc Garth features. "David the Shepherd King" were originals. Bellamy photos were peppered around artwork and included the photo of Nancy Bellamy tied up as Lady Penelope for the Thunderbirds 6 film poster as well as a school photo - Bellamy is not identified. A glass cabinet displayed various magazine and comics in which Bellamy's work appeared.

Gallery Sales table and the right hand side of the 'Bellamy' space
Paul Holder who helped to set up a lot of the Bellamy artwork produced a booklet, with permission from John Morrow, using Paul's chapter from True Brit [Link to paper edition. Note the digital version is full colour and much cheaper - see below!]. The chapter is a biography of Bellamy with some nice accompanying artwork and photographs. You can still buy the digital edition of the whole of True Brit: A Celebration of the Great Comic Book Artists of the UK via Twomorrow's site (as outlined by John Freeman below).

From Garth: The Mask of Atacama (G182)

From: Garth: Bride of Jenghiz Khan (H301-303)
Owned by the Gallery
The three strips above are also reproduced in Alfred East Art Gallery: The Permanent Collection Guide, p.90. It also comes with a small biography (with a few unfortunate typos) but the guide also mentions Bellamy's involvement with the Kettering And District Art Society. It seems odd that the Gallery did not buy some of Bellamy's artwork which, in print form, were also on show here.

Various from Garth: The Wolfman of Ausensee
I enjoyed seeing the placement of oil paintings from the Alfred East collection alongside some comic covers, raising the perennial question of what is 'fine art'. Original art prices for comic covers are at a premium and in my head I was wondering which artwork I would take for a few thousand pounds, if they were for sale!
Placing original paintings from the collection with comic artwork

Overall, I have to say I'm a bit jaded having already seen a lot of what was on display of Bellamy's work, but it is so good to see his work being celebrated locally.

John Freeman has an article about True Brit and how to order high quality prints of original art by Bellamy and Colin Noble reviewed the exhibition for John's Downthetubes site.

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