Somerset House’s blockbuster autumn exhibition Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules opened in spectacular style on Wednesday night.
Somerset House’s Director Jonathan Reekie welcomed a host of famous faces from the worlds of art, fashion and comedy to the exhibition that celebrates the world’s longest-running weekly comic – Beano – and its mix of mayhem, mischief and fun, led by its beloved band of characters, such as Dennis and Gnasher, Minnie the Minx and Bananaman.
Special guests included comedian Frank Skinner, actress Lily Newmark and broadcaster Zezi Ifore and many of the exhibition’s contributing artists, such as Turner Prize winner Martin Creed.
Curated by artist Andy Holden, the exhibition took guests on a trip through Beanotown itself with larger-than-life recreations of Beano’s most iconic backdrops, as if stepping inside the pages of the comic. Hanging on the colourful walls of Bash Street School, the homes of Gasworks Road and Bunkerton Castle, and situated outside on the streets of Beanotown, invitees discovered an eclectic collection of contemporary artworks from over 50 of today’s greatest creative rule-breakers, inspired by Beano’s spirit of rebellion and sense of playfulness. In an exhibition that is just as unconventional as its content, their audacious artworks are shown alongside over 100 comic artworks from the Beano archive, including original drawings never previously seen in public, exploring its lasting impact on the contemporary cultural landscape and upcoming generations of creatives.
After viewing the exhibition, guests then entered an exclusive reception in Somerset House’s Seamen’s Hall and followed a bright yellow carpet onto its River Terrace, with its sweeping views of the capital, decorated with red and black neon illuminations, in homage to the style-staple striped red and black jumpers of Dennis and Minnie. Inspired by the antics of Beano’s mischievous heroes, whoopee cushions were also placed on seats along the River Terrace.
The exhibition received fantastic coverage and reviews following the opening night, with write-ups in The Guardian, awarding the exhibit 5 stars (Somerset House’s first 5-star exhibition review!!), i and The Londonist, to name a few.