Collage by Joe Orton’s killer Kenneth Halliwell goes on display in Islington

The collage by Kenneth Halliwell

The collage by Kenneth Halliwell - Credit: Archant

A missing piece of Islington history makes a return to the borough just in time to showcase at the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) History Month celebrations.

Joe Orton, playwright,murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell at their Islington home in 1967.

Joe Orton, playwright,murdered by his lover Kenneth Halliwell at their Islington home in 1967. - Credit: Archant

An original Kenneth Halliwell untitled collage has taken pride of place in Islington Museum, joining the council’s permanent collection of book jackets that were famously defiled by the Islington artists and writers Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell.

The couple were sentenced to six months in prison in 1963 for pasting scandalous forewords, animal faces and nudes into Islington Public Library book jackets.

“Kenneth Halliwell was a rebel whose name is synonymous with Islington and now notorious because of his exploits in South Library,” said Cllr Janet Burgess, Islington Council’s executive member for health and wellbeing.

Halliwell lived with Orton in a flat in Noel Road, Islington, for seven years before killing Orton and committing suicide in 1967.


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Islington Council used a £12,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant to purchase the £2,800 artwork, which will be accompanied by new collages produced by Islington residents.

“During LGBT History Month we remember and celebrate the impact of Halliwell’s life and others, as we make progress towards full equality,” said Cllr Burgess.

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The Kenneth Halliwell Collage exhibition runs at the museum in St John Street, Finsbury until March 1.

Two additional free events will be held at Islington Museum. Cover Story: Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell, on February 20 6.30-7.30pm, features an illustrated talk of selected Joe Orton writings performed by actor Chris Milligan.

Malicious Damage, on February 25 6:30-7:30pm, is a conversation between authors Ilsa Colsell and Matt Cook discussing the lives of Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell.

For information call 020 7527 2837 or email Islington.museum@islington.gov.uk.

See the full LGBT History Month programme at www.islington.gov.uk/LGBThistorymonth.

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