Saturday, 14 August 2010

Viz at the Lit and Phil

Exhibition celebrates 30th anniversary of Viz

David Whetstone
Evening Chronicle
Aug 13 2010

SOME of the North East’s greatest brains have wowed audiences at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle.

George Stephenson demonstrated his miners’ safety lamp there in 1815 and electric lightbulb inventor Sir Joseph Swan lectured there in 1880.

Even today, with its huge library of old books, the place has an air of quiet erudition.But maybe that should read until today. For last night Viz co-founder Chris Donald officially opened the 30th anniversary exhibition of his mischievous mag in the Lit & Phil’s ground floor gallery.

And between now and September 4 that studious atmosphere might be punctuated with the sound of raucous guffaws.

Amid the original artwork of Viz favourites such as Biffa Bacon and Roger Mellie, Lit & Phil board member Chris Purser said: “As far as we are concerned, Viz is quintessentially Geordie and Tyneside.“The show was in London last year and someone said to them, ‘You are taking it to Newcastle, aren’t you?’. They hadn’t thought about it.

“We had the space and, frankly, this part of the place is under-used.”

Chris pointed out that the creators of some of Viz’s many rude and funny characters are actually quite a brainy bunch.

Cartoonist Davey Jones’s cartoon image of Gilbert Ratchet Vitruvian Handyman is a spoof of a famous scientific drawing by Leonardo da Vinci.

Meanwhile Viz co-founder Simon Donald sent up a famous John Everett Millais painting called Bubbles, used to advertise Pears’ Soap in Victorian times, with a vulgar version showing Johnny Fartpants.

Then there is the send up of WH Auden’s famous poem The Night Train, featuring Postman Plod in the Viz version.

“There is no reason why we shouldn’t have this exhibition here,” said Chris.

“We’ve got books here with cartoons from the 18th Century which are just as rude.”

The exhibition includes original artwork and Viz merchandise.There is also a programme of events including cartoon workshops and talks.

There is a small admission charge to the exhibition which is being held in aid of the Lit & Phil.

And while items such as the Queen Mumorial tea-towel and the model of Viz’s fictional home town, Fulchester, are not for sale, you can buy a special bag with both the Viz and Lit & Phil logos on it.

Seems rather sad that they feel they have to justify it - and odd that the Journal's chief arts correspondent has been enlisted to write this for the Chronic...


  1. Cheers for using my clag-gone photo off of like ya knaa.