Islington Council wants £20k for auctioned Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell collage

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

A piece of Islington’s creative history could be brought back to the borough – but the council needs to raise £20,000 first.

The Halliwell collage

The Halliwell collage - Credit: Archant

A collage created by Kenneth Halliwell is up for auction this month and the town hall’s archives team is desperate to buy it.

Halliwell was an artist and the partner of Joe Orton, the writer with whom he infamously defaced Islington Public Library books in 1962.

The pair were jailed for six months for the act of “guerilla artwork”, which was motivated by the “endless shelves of rubbish” they found in public libraries.

They also lived together in Noel Road for seven years before Halliwell killed Orton and then committed suicide in 1967.

It is thought Orton had some input into the Cat Collage, a 1966 piece made out of paper, card, magazine print, book plates and varnish.

Now the council wants to add it to the Orton/Halliwell collection in Islington Museum and will be hoping their bid wins on September 22.

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Mark Aston, local history manager, said the auctioneers expect it to fetch between £3,000 and £5,000 but an independent valuation found it would go for closer to £20,000.

He told the Gazette: “The appeal goes out to anyone that would like to contribute to help us bid confidently for the piece and to bring the collage home to Islington where it was produced nearly 50 years ago.”

Islington journalist and author Neil McKenna has already backed the campaign. He told the Gazette: “Joe Orton and Kenneth Halliwell are one of the most iconic gay couples of the late 20th century and they lived and worked here. It is very, very important it comes back to Islington where we already have a very good collection of their material.

“People often forget this is a very artistic, creative borough with a proud literary history.”

Donations can be made via PayPal to Cash and cheques are also welcome. Call Mark on 020 7527 7988 for payment information.

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