Anthony Earnshaw

About Earnshaw


Anthony Earnshaw (October 9, 1924 – August 17, 2001)

Born Ilkley, W. Yorks, 1924, the year Lenin died and Breton published his first Manifesto. At the age of 20, through an interest in poetry and literature, he discovered Surrealism."It changed my life. Since then I have drawn drawings and a cartoon strip, painted pictures, written books of a sort, printed prints, made assemblages in boxes and all in all made a general nuisance of myself." 

AUTOGRAPHICAL SKETCH "An interest in poetry in the 1940's led to a discovery of Surrealism. This was a milestone for it made me want to paint pictures which around 1944, 1945, I began to try my hand at. A little later, in greedy quest for more Surrealism I made rare trips to London to visit the London Gallery which was run by the poet E.L.T. Mesens. I never met Mesens, he was ever away in Paris or Brussels. I do recall seeing George Melly, then the Gallery 'dogsbody'. Some fifteen years on, in the early '60's, he and I became firm friends. Surrealism for me was home. I was among friends at last, having been away in a foreign land all my life. The spell of it then cast remains a frisky imp haunting my life. Towards the end of the '60s, twenty and more years after those days. Eric Thacker and I together wrote and illustrated two off-beat novels Musrum and Wintersol. We also collaborated to produce WOKKER, a strip cartoon featuring a mercurial hero who embodies the seemingly contradictory characteristics of mischief maker and an innocent abroad, dismayed by the prospect of existence. In the 50's I worked in the machine shop at Thos. Green & Son, Engineers, North Street (long ago bankrupt).

For a period I drove the overhead gantry crane lifting castings on and off the various machines and so on. Between lifts, most drivers read the racing page. Not me. Much to the amusement of my workmates I painted what they called, 'Daft pictures'. Perforce, they had to be small - have you ever been in the cramped cabin of a crane? At that time much of my work was painted under the eye, so to speak, of Paul Klee, then as always one of my heroes. Towards the end of the 60s my activities as a painter virtually petered out. Apart from the occasional 'dabble' I haven't painted since then. From then up to the mid '70s when I began to build assemblages, I was busy with my collaboration with Eric Thacker. I composed as well, an album of alphabets, Seven Secret Alphabets, which Cape published in 1972. An illustrated collection of 'aphorisms and insults', a kind of ongoing notebook, also occupied my time. This was published with the title Flick Knives & Forks by Transformaction, Harpford, in 1981. My collection of social realist drawings, which have been described as 'bitter' were published with the title A View from Back o' Town. Now, assemblage is the thing. It seems to me 'the assemblage' is more real, therefore more powerful than 'the painting'.

Anthony Earnshaw

Anthony Earnshaw

TV and Radio Programmes

1987  View from Back‘O' Town, BBC Look North

          Two English Surrealists,  directed by Alex Marengo, BBC 2  10 October

         View from Back‘O' Town, Radio Leeds interview

1989  On the Edge, Tyne Tees Television, 7 December.

1993  Kaleidoscope, Radio 4, 11 January.

2003 Flick Knives & Forks directed by John Clayton



1961       W.T.O. Oliver,  Factory Hand's enigmatic watercolours, 31 Nov.

1968       George Melly, Musrum, Observer Colour Supplement, 6 October.

             Philip Norman, Profile : Ahead of the Wolves, Sunday times, 31 March.

             Jonothan Miller, Madly Lucid, Observer, 10 November.

             Robert Nye, Fable or Joke, Birmingham Post, 23 November.

             Anon., Odd looks for minister who writes ‘as I feel', Morning Telegraph,    

             27 December.

             Pat Williams, Weird Word, Sunday Telegraph, 27 October.

             Ivor Cutler, Dressing-table book, Sunday Times,  27 October.

             Anon., Bumper fungus Book, Times Literary Supplement, 24 October.

             Ray Gosling, I gave my copy to the trombonist, The Times, 26 October.

             Martin Dodsworth,  Duldrum, The Listener, 24 October.

             David Piper, The poet dies again, Guardian, 8 November.

             Anthony Powell,  Surrealists at large, Daily Telegraph,  19 December.

             Edward Lucie-Smith, Christmas Books 1, NewStatesman,

             29 November.

             Anon., Private Joke Book, Guardian 28 October.

             Anon., "Indescribable' is the word, Halifax Courier, 25 October.

             Alan R, Radnor, Visit a fantasy world, Evening Express, 2 November.

             Anon., Musrum Developers,

             Neil Spencer, Musrum,

1969       Douglas Wollen, Bookshelf,  Methodist Magazine, March.

1970       George Melly, Revolt into Style,  Alan Lane, The Penguin Press,


1971       Michael McNay,  A misanthropic Christmas, Guardian 25 November.

1972       W. L. Webb, Books of the Day, Guardian, 30 November.

             Peter  Fuller, Anthony Earnshaw,  Arts review, 18 November.

             George Melly, Signs and portents, Guardian 30 November.

             Anon., Too  trendy for words, Daily Mirror 6 November.

             Anon., Tony's seven ways of saying ABC, Yorkshire Evening Post, 29 December. 

1973       Anon.,  The Star, 1 March.

             Peter Mackarell, Surreal Humour, Times Educational Supplement, 23 February.

             I.B.,  Secret's of an artist's Visual Humour, Express and Echo, Exeter, 9 January.

1979       George Melly, A cold wind brushing the temple (catalogue). Arts Council of Great


1980       John Lyle, The assassination of Pierot, Greenwich Theatre Gallery (catalogue),  


             Jeff Nuttall, Three Artists, Guardian,

             Tony Pusey,  Melmoth 2, London.

1982       ‘Rover,' Leeds Other Paper, 26 March.

             W.T,O. Oliver, Yorkshire Post,

             John Hewitt,  Boats of Splendour,

             Rosanna Negrotti, Anthony Earnshaw, What's On,

1983       Patrick Hughes, More on Oxynoron, Penguin Books, New York.

1985       Miranda Strickland-constable, The Irrisitable Object, (catalogue) Leeds City Art  

             Gallery, Leeds.

1986       Ian Walker,  The Spirit of Surrealism, Contrariwise ( catalogue) Glynn Vivian

             Gallery, Swansea.

             David Briars, Contrariwise, Art Monthly,

1987       Terry Waldron, Teeside vision mingled with a mean old world, Middlesbrough

             Evening Gazette, 3 July.

             Peter Inch,  Anthony Earnshaw, Arts Review,

             Robson's Choice, Submarines crewed by ex-miners, Workers Press, 17 October.

             George Melly, Anthony Earnshaw, Leeds City Art Gallery (catalogue) Leeds. 

             Patrick Hughes, Earnshaw, Artline,

1988      Chris Bunyan,  Anthony Earnshaw assemblages and Prints, Darts, 29 June.

             Robert Clark, Anthony Earnshaw, Guardian, 10 June.

             Les Coleman,  A View from Back O' Town, Escape No, 16, London.

             Ian Breakwell, City Limits, 29 December - 5 January.

             Marie-Odile Gain D'Enquin, Les Jardins Du Roi Tony, Camouflage No19, Paris.

1989       Ian Breakwell, Tomes from the Tomb, City Limits, 5-12 January.

             Maria Klein, Tim Lewis & Tony Earnshaw, Art Line No.7

1991       Terry Bennett, Drawn to Humour (catalogue) Cleveland Gallery, Middlesbrough.

             George Melly, Paris and the Surrealists, Thames and Hudson, London.

             Jean-Maria Wynants, Nonsense Dessurs Dessous, L'instant 4 April.

             Jean-Maria Wynants, Surrealiste, n'est-il pas, ce nonsense britanique, La Sori, 4


             Bernice Saltzer, The Magnificent Seven,  Mail 19 March.

             Pru Farrier,  Laughter and tears over the rainbow,  Northern Echo,

             W.E. Johnson, Drawn to Humour, Arts Review,

1993       Sue Hubbard,  Anthony Earnshaw, Time Out,

1994       Anon.,  Worlds in a Box (calalogue) The South Bank Centre,  London.

             Xavier Canonne and Christian Bussy, Marcel Marien, Credit communal. Hainaut,  


1995       Tony del Renzio,                Art Monthly

             Marie-Dominique Massoni, Eclairs d'eau, Editions Surrealistes:

1996       Robert Clark, Wall Game, Guardian 2 January.

1997       Jane Czyzelska,  When I felt like it,

2000       Anon., Anthony Earnshaw, Flowers

             Patrick Hughes, Lurking in Weeds, Flowers  East (catalogue).

             John Slyce,  1978-2000: the Boxed Earnshaw, Flowers East  (catalogue).

             Glen Baxter,  Observer,

             Paul Hammond,  Desde el Palearticp  al Tropic, Phillip West: The Surrealist 

             Found in Saragossa (catalogue) palacio de Sastago, Zarago.

2001       Anon.,  Anthony Earnshaw, Yorkshire Post, 21 August

             George Melly,  Anthony Earnshaw,  Guardian 22 August.

             Patrick Hughes, Anthony Earnshaw, Independent,  23 August

             Anon.,  Mr. Anthony Earnshaw: artist with eye for the absurd, Darlington and  

             Stockton Times, 24 August.

             Anon.,  Anthony Earnshaw, The Times25 August.

             Dave Robson, In death as in life, The Evening Gazette, 31 August.

             Anon., Tony Earnshaw 1924-2001, The whistler Journal No. 23, Chelsea Arts 


             T.F. Griffin, For Tony Earnshaw, Artscene,  September.

             Anon., Some farewell letters from Artscene,  November.

2002     Les Coleman,  The Rich Sardine Lives in his own Tin,  Manticor No.6.

             Gail Earnshaw,  Anthony Earnshaw 1924-2001, Leeds Art Fair 2002 (catalogue).

2003     Robert Short, Anthony Earnshaw, Sculpture in 20C. Britain, Henry Moore  


2007     George Melly, Au Nord De Quoi? No.2, editions, Bonneville, Lille.

2009     Julia Weiner, GP who has his stethoscope turned into Surrealist art, The

             Jewish Chronicle, 11 September

Contributions in journals

1968     Surrealist Transformaction no. 2, Transformaction,  Sidmouth

             The  Magazine NO. 8, I.C.A. London.

             Surrealism in the City , Architectural  ReviewDecember.

1970     Surrealist Transformaction No. 3, Transformaction,  Sidmouth.

             Blue Food No. 1, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

             Blue Food No. 2, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

1971     Surrealist Transformaction No. 4, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

1971/2  Wokker (with Eric Thacker) Times Educational Supplement,  London.

1973     Surrealist Transformaction No. 5, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

             Surrealist Transformaction No. 6, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

1974     Blue Food No 3, Transformaction, Sidmouth.

             Les Levres Nues No. 10  (August).

             Brumes Blondies No. 5  Amsterdam.

1975     Les Levres Nues, La Fauss Sortie, Brussels (March).

1976     Surrealist Transformaction no. 7, Transformaction,  Sidmouth.

1977     Surrealist Transformaction no. 8, Transformaction,  Sidmouth.

1979     Surrealist Transformaction no. 9, Transformaction,  Sidmouth.

             Les Nevre Nues,  Le Cache - Sexe des Anges, Brussels.

             Le La 6, Geneve.

1981     Not Poetry, Galloping Dog Press, Newcastle.

             Event No. 10, London.

1982     Ellebore  No. 8, Paris.

             Camouflage No. 2 Tomahawk  Supplement,  Paris.

1983     Camouflage No.4  Tomahawk  Supplement,  Paris.

             Camouflage No.5  Tomahawk  Supplement,  Paris.        

1984     Camouflage No.6  Tomahawk  Supplement,  Paris.

             Camouflage No 7  Tomahawk  Supplement,  Paris.

             Camouflage No. 8  Tomahawk Supplement,  Paris.

             The Hourglass Review, No, 1, Hourglass, Paris.

1985     Homnesies, Paris.

             Camouflage No. 9  Tomahawk  Supplement, Paris.

             Camouflage No. 10 Tomahawk  Supplement, Paris.

             Grid No, 2, Paris.

             Grid No. 3/4, Paris.

             De sac et de cord,. No.1  Paris.

             Knuckleduster Funnies No. 1,2,3,4,  Todmorden

             De sac et de corde, No.2  Paris.

1986     Grid No. 5,  English contributions to surrealism, Paris.

             The Looker No. 8, M5 Press, Winscombe.

1987/9  The Truth, Wokker included in all 20 issues.

1988     Annual  Jissom, G.T.O.G. Huddersfield.

1989     Extrance, No. 3, Bolton.

             Les Levres Nues,  Le moment venu,  Brussels.

             Freedom, Nos. 3,4,11. Freedom Press, London.

1990     Extrance, No. 4, Bolton.

             The Looker No. 14,  M5 Press, Winscombe.

1991     Les Levres Nues,  Le Zenotage,  Brussels.

             Mensuel No. 126, Cirques Divers, Liege.

             Mensuel No. 128, March, Cirques Divers, Liege.

             Funny Looking, Collection Papier Journal,  Editions du Cirque Divers, Liege.

             Hotel Ouistiti, No. 11, Paris.

1992     Les Levres Nues,  Le Qui - Vive,  Brusels.

             Les Levres Nues  Terre - a - Terre, Brussels.

1993     Les Levres Nues, La Claine - Voie,  Brussels.

1995/9  The Whistler Journal, Wokker strip, Chelsea Arts Club, London.

1996     Au Nord De Quoi, Editions Bonneville, Lille, France.

1997     Manticor No. 1, Leeds Surrealist Group, Leeds.

             Manticor No. 2 , Leeds Surrealist Group, Leeds.

             S.U.RR... No. 2,  Editions surrealists, Paris.

2000    Manticor No. 5, Leeds Surrealist Group, Leeds.

2002    Manticor No.6, Leeds Surrealist Group, Leeds.

2003    S.U.RR ... No.4,(including supplement ecoutons voir)  Editions surrealists, Paris.

2007    Au Nord de Quoi? Editions Bonneville, Lille, France.


Contribution to books

1966   Dongdeath and Jazzabeth, Eric Thacker,  Location,  Leeds.

           The Sycamore Tree, ( with Patrick Hughes, Robin Page and Ron Swift) hors

           Commerce. ( Edition of 4).

1981   5 x 5, Trigram Press, Hebden Bridge.

1984   More on Oxymoron, Patrick Hughes, Jonathan Cape, London.

1989   Clock Lips, Marie-Odile Gain D'Enquin, Hourglass, Paris.

1990   Seeing in the Dark, Serpent's Tail, London.

1991   Six English Surrealists (concertina of postcards) |Cirque Divers, Liege.

1994   Brought to Book, Penguin Books, Harmsworth.

1996   Craven Sur Craven, Marie-Odile Gain D'Enquin, Editions du Rewidiage, Lonpre

1997   Variations on a Theme, Les Coleman, Copy Book Number 4.

1998   Redstone Diary of the Absurd, Redstone Press, London.

1999   Dying for Eternity, Andrew Lanyon, hors commerce ( Edition of 200).

           Pour Peter Wood, Hourglass, Paris.

2000   We Shall Strike for More Dreams, Peter Wood, Hourglass, Paris.

2001   Ecoutons Voir!, Leeds Surrealist Group, Leeds.

2006   Dr Clock's Handbook, Redstone Press, London.

2008   Left to write, Patrick Hughes, flowers, London; British Surrealism & Other Realitiies, The

           Sherwin Collection, Mima, Middlesbrough

2010   Pandorama, Ian Dujig, Picador, London

2011   Paradixymoron, Patrick Hughes, Reverspective, London; Le fonds Paul Destribats, Paris; On the

           Thirteenth stroke of Midnight: An anthology of British surrealism Poetry, edited by Michel

           Remy, Carcanrt, Manchester



Anthony Earnshaw - The Imp of Surrealism