Josh Kirby at The Walker

Ann Bukantas (Curator) and Amy Harnell (a Trustee of Josh Kirby’s Estate) pictured with the original artwork for Star Wars – Return of the Jedi and Monty Python’s Life of Brian.

‘Out of This World: The Art Of Josh Kirby’ opens at the Liverpool Walker Art Gallery on Friday June 15 2007

Of course this is a must see for all fans of Science Fiction and Fantasy (that includes me) but everyone who is interested in drawing and painting could spend a long time here admiring the skill and meticulous attention to detail on over 200 exhibits.

I didn’t expect to see so many works but apparently Josh would often paint 2 or 3 copies so even when paintings were sold he would still have a version of his own. So there’s 45 years worth of various styles, even a collection of portraits of people such as Alfred Hitchcock (look closely to see the small skulls on his face!), some abstracts, sketches and pictures for the UK Jigsaw company Falcon which look familiar from my childhood.

Of course, there are many of the original paintings for the book covers of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld and Eric/Faust fantasy series. I always assumed these were watercolour / gouache but they are actually oil used quite thinly on card.

I will certainly be back for another look before the exhibition ends on September 30 2007


Born Ronald William Kirby in 1928, he was educated at Liverpool City School of Art during the late 1940s where he earned the nickname “Josh” after fellow students deemed his work to resemble the portraits of 18th century artist Joshua Reynolds. For a short time Kirby pursued a career as a portrait painter, and was gifted enough to be the youngest artist commissioned to paint the Lord Mayor of Liverpool’s portrait in 1950. He lived most of his working life in an old rectory in Norfolk.

He died on 23 October 2001, aged 72 years old.

This exhibition has been selected from the contents of the artist’s estate and has been organised in collaboration with the Trustees of the Josh Kirby Estate.

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