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   Donald McGill gets his own museum and touring exhibition
   A splendid erection    (20.07.10)


   Ah, the British seaside. It's a giddy world of funfairs and piers,
   donkey rides and sandcastles, deckchairs and ice creams and
   fish and chips and mobbing seagulls and Mods and Rockers
   feuding on scooters.. erm.. well, maybe not the latter, nowadays.
   But the  thing is, there are lots of traditional elements here. We
   know there'll be big pink sticks of rock for sale on the seafront,
   and windmills and Kiss-Me-Quick Hats. And we also know, as
   sure as the rain that ruins every Bank Holiday, there'll be a
   revolving stand of saucy seaside postcards for sale.

   The king of the saucy postcard will always be the late and
   incomparable Donald McGill (1975-1962). His famous cards featured
   big bathing beauties, besmirched husbands, drunk Scotsmen and
   bosomy wives and lashings of double-entendre, and they sold
   in their millions. Estimates put the figure as high as 200 million.
   He was also put in the dock, charged with breaking the Obscene
   Publications Act, in 1964. But that storm in a vicar's teacup
   brewed up too late in the day to stop his fame. His legions of
   fans included George Orwell, who was moved to write an essay
   on the man in 1941. And in recent years, film director turned
   food critic Michael Winner has been snapping up those McGill
   originals. Plus, they surely had some influence upon those
   wonderfully irreverent Carry On films.

   So it's lovely to see that McGill's marvellous endeavours are
   now being celebrated in the form of a permanent exhibition.
   On July 10th Donald McGill's Saucy Seaside Postcard Museum
   opened its doors in Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. The museum
   features a great many postcards, alongside lots of biographical
   information and many examples of his original artworks, with the
   highlight being a ceiling display decorated with 2500 of McGill's
   postcard images, presented in chronological order (1904-1963),
   with a few three-dimensional features hidden within the display,
   just for good measure.

   Donasld McGill's Saucy Seaside Postcard Museum in Ryde, Isle of Wight

   Now, a museum alone is something to celebrate. But there's
   even more McGill to get excited about, because there's a most
   extraordinary touring exhibition in the pipeline. Or funnel line, even.
   That's because it's going to be contained within a real-life funnel,
   from a former steamer ship. Yes, you heard that right. A funnel.
   It comes from the Ryde Queen, a paddle steamer commissioned
   in 1936 which carried passengers from Portsmouth to Ryde through
   to the 1960's. The ship was later transformed into a nightclub, but
   now, it's being scrapped. Museum founder James Bissell-Thomas
   is endeavouring to take the 22' high stack and enable folks to
   walk up a ramp and inside, wherein will be housed some 1500
   McGill postcards and interactive exhibits. Said funnel will be cut
   into three sections, to enable its transport around the country,
   stopping off for a week at various university and seaside towns
   prior to an eventual rendezvous with the Edinburgh Festival.

   Doesn't it sound terrific? - Well, there's even more. You see,
   The Hound exchanged emails with James over the weekend in
   which he revealed that he'd just acquired a rather splendid old
   Bedford petrol tanker which he's going to transform into a mobile
   shop to accompany the funnel tour. It will also tow the funnel ramp,
   and provide living accommodation as they roam the UK.

   Now, all of this will probably take a couple of years to come to
   fruition but when it does, the sight of that big bright Bedford
   parked on the seafront, with that funnel standing proud beside
   it, well, it sounds like it will be a most fitting erection indeed!

   Meanwhile, there's the Donald McGill museum to visit. You'll find
   it at 15 Union Street Ryde, PO33 2DU, three minutes walk from
   Ryde Esplanade Station. And you should know that James'
   surname is the Thomas half of Greaves & Thomas, who now own
   the Donald McGill copyright. They have over 2000 McGill images
   available in their library...
                                                More: Donald McGill Museum



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