For anyone who’s not managed to make it to Southport’s The Atkinson gallery for their superb Frank Hampson – The Man Who Drew Dan Dare exhibition, then you might try and make it to Bourne Hall in Epsom, Surrey, instead. Their small but perfectly crafted Frank Hampson Centenary Exhibition also celebrates the 100th anniversary of the birth of the award-winning artist who created Dan Dare.
The Bourne Hall exhibition runs until Tuesday 12th March and The Atkinson exhibition until Saturday 16th March, so there’s still plenty of time to get to both exhibitions.
Bourne Hall museum is housed within the library building which looks remarkably like a UFO and is a great piece of modernist architecture (the building itself is grade 2 listed).
Frank Hampson came to Epsom in the early 1950s and was soon established in Bayford Lodge, which served as his home and his studio. There, for a decade, he created the strips that held the nation’s schoolboys (and others!) enthralled, as they waited eagerly each week for the latest edition of Eagle to learn whether Dan Dare, the intrepid space explorer, had survived his most recent mission.
The displays at Bourne Hall include original artwork which has been loaned by Peter Hampson, Frank’s son, including a front page of the Eagle – plus drawings of Treens, Therons and other alien characters from the comic. Also on display are the annuals which were such eagerly awaited Christmas presents, and comics which will bring back memories of trips to the newsagents to get a new copy, running back home to read the latest adventure.
‘There will be many people locally who remember, for example, the staged fights with ray guns outside Bayford Lodge,” notes Museum curator, Jeremy Harte, “as Frank Hampson gathered material for the next instalment to go up on his drawing board.”
The exhibition itself features a number of large display boards telling the story of Frank’s life alongside a number of display cases featuring a variety of items. These include example of annuals, comics, photographs, original preparatory art (including sketches for Dan Dare and for Frank’s masterpiece “The Road of Courage”), original artwork for Ladybird, early work for Meccano magazine, Anvil magazines and much more besides.
In total, there are about ten display cases to look at and there is loads of information on the display boards to read.
Highly recommended (especially if Southport is too far away).
• Frank Hampson Centenary Exhibition Tuesday to Saturday 9.00am – 5.00pm until 12th March 2019, Bourne Hall Museum, Spring Street, Ewell, Surrey KT17 1UF | More about the Museum on the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council web site here – the nearest station is West Ewell
• There’s a brief guide to Frank Hampson’s Epsom connections here on the Epsom and Ewell History Explorer web site
• The Official Frank Hampson web site is at frankhampsonartwork.co.uk
• Frank Hampson – The Man Who Drew Dan Dare – Saturday 15th September 2018 – Saturday 16th March 2019 – For more about the exhibition visit The Atkinson web site