Islington museum

Current exhibitions

Find out about our latest free exhibitions and displays

Up Against It: Islington 1967

Dates: Saturday 22 July to Saturday 21 October 2017

Opening timesMonday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 10am - 5pm. Wednesday and Sunday: closed

Admission: Free

Venue details: Information on visiting the venue

1967: Up Against It’ explores the impact of the Sexual Offences Act (1967) passed on 27 July that year, and the 50th anniversary of the deaths of the borough’s most (in)famous gay couple, Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, on 9 August.

Through the stories of well-known and some not so well-known gay men living in Islington before and after the act, this exhibition seeks to reflect the experience of men who could not declare their love freely and the difference the 1967 act made to them. Stories featured include those of Oscar Wilde, imprisoned at Holloway and Pentonville prisons, and record producer Joe Meek whose life, like Orton and Halliwell’s, also ended in tragic circumstances.

Collaged public library book covers created by Orton and Halliwell, a Halliwell collage and his newly acquired ‘World of Cats’ screen will be on display together for the first time. The exhibition further asks whether the sixth-month sentence the couple received for theft and malicious damage in 1962 was, as Orton asserted, “because we were queers.”

‘Up Against It: a performance of selected writings by Joe Orton’. Islington Museum, 6.30pm Tuesday 17 October 2017. Admission £5.00.

Up against it image

Islington on canvas: art from the archives

Dates: Friday 1 December 2017 to Saturday 24 February 2018

Opening times: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 10am - 5pm. Wednesday and Sunday (and public holidays): closed

Admission: Free

Venue details: Information on visiting the venue

A winter exhibition of artworks from the archive collections at Islington Museum and Local History Centre.
From the early 19th century Islington began to attract both professional and amateur artists. It was an area of contrasts, industrialised Clerkenwell and Finsbury in the south and semi-rural Highbury and Holloway to the north. Together with the centrally located Upper Street area, a place of eating, drinking and entertainment, there was much to inspire the artist. Later, the borough’s many residential squares and terraced villas, as well as its close proximity to the bustling City of London, offered a convenient location for them to live and work. During the 20th century many artists were drawn to Islington’s ‘pockets’ of affluence, fading charm and unpretentious atmosphere.

One of the nation’s most foremost painters, Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942), was to be inspired by Islington and had many connections to the area. Sickert often visited Collins’ Music Hall on Islington Green to study the artistes, audience and atmosphere for future works and, between 1924 and 1934, he lived and worked at several addresses in the borough. His third wife, (Elaine) Thérèse Lessore (1884-1945) was influenced by her husband’s love of Islington and she too was inspired to capture local entertainment. 

Walter Sickert was also a great inspiration to artist and writer Geoffrey Scowcroft Fletcher (1923-2004. Fletcher referred to Islington as having a “many-sided” character and found the combination of Islington’s affluence and poverty, and the resulting variety of buildings and people that made up the area, intriguing. 

The artworks selected for exhibition, including pieces by Sickert, Lessore and Fletcher, have been chosen by Islington Local History Centre and Museum staff, volunteers and friends of the museum as ‘favourites’. Many of these works have rarely been seen until now and ‘Islington on canvas: art from the archives’ offers an unmissable opportunity to view these specially selected works from the museum and centre’s art collection, while also bringing some well-known and some not so well-known artists to a wider audience.

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