Slap up plans for “Great British Fish & Chips” graphic reportage project with exhibitions and more around the UK

The Great British Fish and Chips - Turner Contemporary 2021 - Margate

Before the first COVID-19 lockdown last year, journalist Andrew Humphreys and graphic reportage artist and writer Olivier Kugler had started to travel around Britain, investigating the role of immigrants in what we like to think as our great national dish, fish and chips – and one result is a comics exhibition, The Great British Fish & Chips, now open at the Turner Contemporary, Margate – with, hopefully, more to come.

Fish and chips started with fried fish introduced to England through its Jewish communities and fried chipped potatoes pioneered by French or Belgian immigrants. The two came together in the UK’s first fish & chips shop, which was most probably in the East End of London and was Jewish.

In the early 20th century, Italians got into the fish & chip trade in a big way, particularly in Scotland. Later it was Greek and Turkish immigrants from Cyprus, and then the Chinese.

Presented in the form of graphic reportage, the first exhibition of Andrew and Olivier’s work, created after much research, opened last month at the Turner Contemporary in Margate, as part of National Refugee Week, its first port of call, with more venues lined up for the future.

The Great British Fish and Chips - Turner Contemporary 2021 - Margate

“We were commissioned by Counterpoints Arts to produce five pieces of work connecting Kent chippies with migration,” Olivier a London-based editorial illustrator and visual journalist tells downthetubes. “We supplemented this work with a handful of fish & chip pieces done as part of earlier magazine commissions, and the whole work was printed up on vinyl and pasted up around the gallery’s outside café terrace.”

The works will also be used as the basis for a series of workshops at schools in the area.

This body of work will be part of a larger reportage project, a book, The Great British Fish & Chips, that Andrew and Olivier hope to create over the next three years, which will also take a closer look at the fishing industry, international trade, trawler building in Whitby, sustainability, potato farming and how fish & chips became so popular with the British working classes.

“We are also intending to interview Chinese chip shop owners in Liverpool, Italians in Glasgow, and Greek and Turkish Cypriots in Birmingham,” says Olivier.

In addition to the exhibition, Andrew and Olivier have also created a 25-page journal for the French XXI magazine, a tale of how gentrification led to the closure of ‘Benny’s, one South London chip shop that had been worked by three generations of one family; and a 20-page story on why fishing rights lie at the heart of Brexit for the Swiss Reportagen magazine. 

  • The Great British Fish and Chips - Art by Olivier Kugler
  • The Great British Fish and Chips - Art by Olivier Kugler
  • The Great British Fish and Chips - Art by Olivier Kugler
  • The Great British Fish and Chips - Art by Olivier Kugler
  • The Great British Fish and Chips - Art by Olivier Kugler

Both Andrew and Olivier are guests at this year’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October.

“When it comes to planning further exhibitions we’ll have plenty of additional work to show,” Olivier says, “as well as ideas to explore about displaying the art beyond the bounds of the traditional gallery.”

• The Great British Fish and Chips runs at Turner Contemporary, Margate, until 26th September 2021 | More details here

Andrew Humphreys
Andrew Humphreys

Andrew Humphreys read a lot of Tintin as a young boy and it had a lasting effect. He became a journalist and writer, and went off to live and work in Cairo, Tallinn, Beijing, Mumbai, Melbourne, and a bunch of other places.

He has written more than 20 guidebooks to destinations including Siberia, Central Asia, Syria, Iran, Shanghai, Istanbul and Marrakech for the likes of Lonely Planet, National Geographic and Time Out.

His journalism has appeared in the Financial Times, Sunday Times, Observer and Time Out magazine, and he’s written two books on intrepid early travellers in Egypt and is currently working on a book about Eel Pie Island, a legendary music and counter-culture haunt in the Thames at Twickenham.

Olivier Kugler
Olivier Kugler

Olivier Kugler is a London-based editorial illustrator and visual journalist.

He is a highly skilled and passionate storyteller with a gift for both words and images.

He has travelled to Iran, Laos, Iraqi Kurdistan, Cairo, Ghana and many other places on assignment for a variety of publications including the Guardian, New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, French journal XXI and German GQ.

He has done extensive reporting on Middle Eastern refugees in Europe and a book collecting this work, called Escaping Wars and Waves, was published in the UK in 2018; it has won two major European design and illustration awards.

He also created Mit dem Elefantendoktor in Laos, a journal published in German, about a veterinarian he joined on a mission to look after the health of working elephants in the jungle and the highlands of Laos.

Oli is also a past winner of a V&A Illustration Award and World Illustration Award.

• Olivier is online at: www.olivierkugler.com | Twitter: @olivierkugler

• The Great British Fish and Chips runs at Turner Contemporary, Margate, until 26th September 2021 | More details here

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.



Categories: Art and Illustration, British Comics, Comics, downthetubes News, Events, Exhibitions, Other Worlds

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