The Art Of Breaking Rules: A New Celebration Of ‘The Beano’ Through The Decades

by Richard Bruton

Dennis The Menace, Minnie The Minx, and the whole Beano gang are going to be running riot at Somerset House in London as it celebrates The Beano and The Art of Breaking Rules with a major exhibition coming this Autumn.

Minnie The Minx – art by Laura Howell

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules is a major new exhibition coming to Somerset House in autumn 2021, looking back on the glorious history of the comic that’s been bringing chaos and anarchy into the lives of children (and their grown-ups as well) since first published in 1938.

The new exhibition will take a look at the irreverence and rule-breaking of the comic through the art of decades worth of Beano artists and contemporary artists and designers – including Bedwyr Williams, Hardeep Pandhal, Fourth Plinth artist Heather Phillipson, Holly Hendry, Lindsey Mendick, Sarah Lucas, Simeon Barclay and editorial cartoonist Martin Rowson.

Minnie The Minx by her creator, the genius that was Leo Baxendale

Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules is curated by artist Andy Holden, a lifelong Beano fan, whose art often uses the allegory of the cartoon as a way to comprehend our contemporary landscape.

“The exhibition will bring Beanotown to life and populate it with a new set of resident maverick artists. In researching the show, almost every artist I’ve approached so far came back with yes, I loved the Beano and hopefully this exhibition will show how some of the themes that have run through Beano’s history are often the same ones that feed a creative, rebellious sensibility.”

In the exhibition, you’ll be able to see the Beanotown Museum, showing visitors the creators behind the iconic characters, before looking at the recurring themes of the comic, including topics such as Class, Education, Feminism and Art. Contemporary artworks – including new commissions especially for the show – will interact with the original strips, to provide fresh perspectives on the comic, before the exhibition explores how Beano has penetrated alternative pop culture and then closes with an interactive workshop space for all ages to get creative.

Dennis the Menace by his creator Davey Law

The exhibition promises that its audiences will feel as if they’re stepping inside the comic page, with ongoing gags, editor’s notes and larger-than-life recreations of the regular sights of Beanotown, from Bash Street School and Bunkerton Castle to the homes of Gasworks Road, providing the backdrops for the contemporary creations on show.

Tickets for the Beano exhibition will go on sale in the summer – sign up to Somerset House’s newsletter for more details via the following link somersethouse.org.uk/beano.

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