News / Art

Before the Blockheads: Ian Dury’s art school work, made under the tutelage of Peter Blake


Ian Dury: I’m Crazy Yet (1963); courtesy Estate of Ian Dury

An exhibition celebrating the history of Walthamstow School of Art will open at the William Morris Gallery in London in June, showcasing work made by well-known alumni and teachers during their time there. It will feature a poster series made by musician Ian Dury while under the tutelage of Peter Blake, as well as Ian’s sketchbooks.

Peter Blake taught at the school between 1961–1964, during which time Ian and Peter are said to have formed a life-long friendship. They collaborated several times, and inspired one another’s work, for example when Peter designed the promotional poster for the Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ single Reasons to be Cheerful, Part 3 and in 1984, when the band released Peter the Painter.

Work by Ken Russell, Celia Birtwell, Peter Greenaway, Marion Foale, Sally Tuffin, Bill Jacklin, Ken Howard, Fred Cuming, Olwyn Bowey and Derek Boshier will also be displayed as part of the Be Magnificent exhibition. Self Portrait with Badges made by Peter Blake during his tenure at the school will be exhibited, on loan from the Tate, as well as Cardinal by Derek Hill, who taught in the painting department.

The exhibition will also feature testimony, photographs, film, music and archival material, aiming to capture “the energy, excitement and dynamism” of the school and “show how artistic innovation was the result of access to free universal education”.

London arts agency Create will also be running a two-week experimental art school on the site of the former school, now Waltham Forest College, where alumni and former tutors, including Keith Albarn, Terry Day and Laurie Lewis will return to teach classes alongside contemporary artists including Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton and Marcus Coates.

Be Magnificent. Walthamstow School of Art 1957–1967 opens 9 June – 10 September 2017 at the William Morris Gallery, London.


Ian Dury: Please No Gunfire (1963-5); courtesy Estate of Ian Dury


Ian Dury sketchbooks; courtesy Estate of Ian Dury


Ian Dury sketchbooks; courtesy Estate of Ian Dury


Ian Dury sketchbooks; courtesy Estate of Ian Dury


Ian Dury sketchbooks; courtesy Estate of Ian Dury


Peter Blake: Self Portrait with Badges
© Sir Peter Blake. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo courtesy and © Tate, London 2017


Walthamstow School of Art 1958


Walthamstow School of Art 1958, with millinary teacher Peter Shepherd