This book of drawings by Garth England is part of the Future Perfect
programme and was published in April 2016. It is co-edited by Future Perfect curators Jes Fernie and Theresa Bergne.
Garth England was a long-term resident of Hengrove and Knowle-West in south Bristol; Murdered with Straight Lines tells the poignant story of a childhood lived through a world war and its aftermath; the development of Britain's Welfare State and social housing provision; vernacular architecture, indoor toilets and fitted kitchens.
The drawings were discovered by Jo Plimmer, engagement curator of Future Perfect, when she visited Hengrove Lodge as part of the public engagement programme. Garth died in 2014 but he knew of our plans to publish his drawings and gave us his blessing. The title of the book is a reference to the response that his teachers had to his drawings.
The book is designed by Polimekanos and funded by the Hengrove Arts Fund and the Hengrove Neighbourhood Partnership. It's sold out but second hand copies can be bought: here
I have a few copies - get in contact if you'd like to buy one.
Here's what people are saying about it:
'England's extraordinary drawings, made in Hengrove Lodge care home between 2006 and 2013 and published in a beautiful book called Murdered with Straight Lines, capture the changing city through the eyes of this post-war everyman... His work could be a Jeremy Deller readymade, a dispatch from a time before irony overload. It shows a more functional civic life than today, with abundant social housing and a new welfare state. Beautifully designed by Polimekanos, the book gives England’s coloured sketches and cartoon-strip depictions the space to breathe.'
Tim Burrows, Guardian, 2 June 2016. Read the full article here
'Interspersed with his architectural drawings are gridded illustrations of childhood memories, like an outsider art take on a graphic novel memoir. In stilted capital letters, some captions read like fragments of Romantic poetry: “Making Friends with the Donkeys in Tor Field,” “Fairyland to me, Actually Wick Hollow,” “Making Daisy Chains for Violet,” “Kindly country people filled with love galore.” England's lack of self-consciousness and reverence for the mundanities of daily life is refreshing and the specificity of his details make for a vivid 2-D Bristol. It’s the kind of document Wes Anderson could only dream of making as a film prop.'
Carey Dunne, Hyperallergic, NY, 11 July 2016. Read the full article here
'What an amazing project...very timely words about the dismantling of our welfare state. I urge anyone with an interest in the birth of British modernism and the welfare state to buy it. It's a delightful, poignant and salutary reminder of the beauty to be found and cherished in the everyday'.
Director of Design, Exhibitions & Future Plan, Victoria and Albert Museum
'It's an extraordinary social document, so rich'.
Nick de Klerk, architect, London
'What a legacy for Garth. I'm sure he would have really liked it and be proud to see his name on the front of a published book of his drawings. I could not put it down when I received it this morning. I read it all the way through'.
R Bill Roberts, Hengrove resident
'It is absolutely gorgeous, I can't get my nose out of it'.
Shumi Bose, architectural writer, tutor and co-curator of the British Pavilion, Architecture Biennale, Venice 2016
'The whole collection is remarkable. It's incredible how he held an almost perfect sense of proportion in his mind - I loved it'.
Tom Grieve, HAT Projects
'An extraordinary book of drawings'
David Knight, DK-CM Architects
'Really fascinating and moving'.
Vicky Richardson, ex-director of Architecture, British Council
'This is great, and moving. Garth England: the milkman who drew Bristol from memory'
John Harris, Guardian journalist, writer & critic
'It's not just a book but a whole life'.
Jane Somerville, Bristol resident