Halliwell screen
Islington Museum is to show this Halliwell collage 'World of Cats' screen for the first time as part of a new exhibition.

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The museum paid £8000 for the collage at a JP Humbert sale, as reported in ATG last year, and it will form part of its exhibition ‘Up Against It: Islington 1967’.

This summer marks 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK with the Sexual Offences Act. It is also the 50th anniversary of the tragic deaths of playwright Joe Orton and his partner and collage artist Halliwell.

Halliwell killed his partner Orton, and then committed suicide. The couple, who defaced Islington public library books and were jailed for the crime, lived in the north London borough after meeting at RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art) in 1951. 

Orton rose to fame in the five years before his death for his darkly comic farces including Entertaining Mr Sloane and Loot and in recent years Halliwell’s art has enjoyed a growing following.

The acquisition of a number of Halliwell pieces in recent years, including a 1966 collage for £2800 at Stacey’s in Essex, has been led by its local history manager Mark Aston. He helped the museum raise funding for the purchases from the public and a number of trusts.

Halliwell and Orton

This is a photo, probably taken in around 1966, of Kenneth Halliwell and Joe Orton in Duncan Terrace in Islington.

This new exhibition, running from July 22-October 21, explores the lives of well-known members of the local gay community before and after, as well as the effects of, the passing of the Sexual Offences Act on July 27, 1967. Halliwell and Orton died two weeks later, on August 9.

The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised sex, in private, between men over the age of 21 and is regarded as the first step on the ongoing journey towards equality for members of the LGBT community.