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  • Romeyn after De Hooghe Arlequin sur l Hypographe a la Criosade Lojoliste1689
    Romeyn, after De Hooghe
    Arlequin sur l'Hypographe à la Criosade Lojoliste 1689
  • John Tenniel Illustrations to Through the Looking Glass and What Alice found there The Walrus the Carpenter and the Oysters 1872
    John Tenniel
    Illustrations to 'Through the Looking Glass and What Alice found there': The Walrus, the Carpenter and the Oysters 1872
  • Angus Fairhurst The Problem with Banana Skins Divided Inverted  1998 sculpture of a banana skin
    Angus Fairhurst
    The Problem with Banana Skins Divided / Inverted 1998
  • David Shrigley Im dead 2007 stuffed cat standing on its hinde legs holding a sign saying im dead
    David Shrigley
    I'm Dead 2007
  • Shaun Doyle and Mally Mallinson Death to the Fascist Fruit Boys 2010 two male cartoon figures with fruit and vegetables for heads and hands are attacking a cone of chips which has a face, legs
    Shaun Doyle & Mally Mallinson
    Death to the Fascist Fruit Boys 2010
  • Spirit Flask 1800 carved or moulded drinking flask in the shape of a human head
    Spirit Flask c.1800

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of ‘absurd’ reads ‘Out of harmony with reason or propriety; incongruous, unreasonable, illogical … plainly opposed to reason, and hence, ridiculous, silly’.

Much comic art since the seventeenth century could be in fact classed as absurd, involving disconcerting dislocations of scale, the humanisation of inanimate objects and animals, and baffling uselessness. Rather than adding up to a coherent British tradition of absurdist humour, the works brought together here may suggest the rich variety of absurd comic art – mixed with elements of melancholy and regret.

Harry Hill has been our guest curator in this space, and has added some of his own special touches to the installation.