Doctored Orton prints help Leicester statue campaign

Published: 9 November 2019
Reporter: Steve Orme

The estate of Joe Orton is releasing for the first time limited edition prints of three of the library books that Orton and his partner Kenneth Halliwell doctored—an act that led to the couple being sent to prison.

Proceeds will go towards a campaign to erect a statue of the playwright in his home town of Leicester.

The Orton estate has collaborated with Islington Local History Centre and artist Christian Furr to produce 100 prints of three designs: “Collins Guide to Roses”, “Queen’s Favourite” and “The Secret of Chimneys”. Each print will be stamped with the Orton estate seal and signed by Orton’s sister Leonie and Christian Furr, who has remastered the original images.

The release of the prints coincides with the announcement of a charity auction at the Curtain Hotel, Shoreditch on Tuesday 19 November, with artworks donated by Christian Furr up for grabs alongside rare Orton artefacts. Tickets for the auction are available at the Eventbrite web site.

Furr said, “I’ve always loved the work of Joe Orton, primarily for its humour. The book cover collages by Joe and his partner Kenneth are at first glance seemingly done for their own amusement but they happened over the course of two years and show clear intent.

“They’re valid works of art to my mind and add to the tradition of collage and situationism. I see their influence in art today. The collages are visual additions to Joe's literary canon and it was an honour to be involved in this timely reappraisal and remastering of this beautiful new print edition.”

Dr Emma Parker, a leading Orton expert at the University of Leicester which is home to the Orton archive, said, “the appeal stands at a critical point. We’ve already raised a significant sum but desperately need the revenue from the prints and auction to succeed.

“A pledge for a print offers people the chance to be part of an exciting project that will change prevailing ideas about who deserves to be commemorated and to acquire a collectible artwork.”

Prints are available on a first-come, first-served basis in exchange for a pledge of £500 by Saturday 30 November. Further information is available at the Spacehive web site.