Kenneth Cyril Bird 1887 - 1965
was a cartoonist and humourist who made a unique contribution
to Britain's home-front during WW2.
Bird signed his work Fougasse. A name he took from an unpredictable
form of French land-mine in WWl. He and his comrades discovered,
through bitter experience, that the bomb was likely to go off at any time.
Bird's own personality was anything but explosive. He was remembered
by his colleagues at Punch as a quiet and withdrawn man.
His drawings and cartoons, like HM Bateman's, offer a social commentary
on British middle-class anxieties in the middle decades of the last century.
Fougasse was commissioned by RoSPA to produce illustrated guides for
road safety during the 1930's. The objectives of RoSPA were achieved by
appeal to the ideal of courteous driving and road-side manners. Similarly,
his posters for London Transport show passengers how their behaviour
can make the transport system work better for everyone. Fougasse
always acknowledged these posters as propaganda. Indeed, he devised
a series of guidelines for the successful communication of propaganda
messages through humour.
The stoic good humour of the British people during WW2 is one of the
founding mythologies of the home-front. The popular experience of the
war is recalled by reference to the ubiquitous Careless Talk posters that
Fougasse drew for the MInistry of Information. The posters were published
as a series of eight drawings in many formats. They were displayed in any
public place and in many military establishments. Each of the drawings
shows Hitler and Goering, in absurd poses, evesdropping on an
unsuspecting public. The posters succeed in making a serious point
light-heartedly. Although printed in very large editions during the war,
the posters are rare today. Examples in good condition are extremely
difficult to find.
1940's originals - for sale @ £250 each
PLEASE CHECK FOR AVAILABILITY AS SOME ARE NOW SOLD
Informative and decorative book on Fougasse by James Taylor
available from us £9.95
scarce Fougasse Christmas card,
published by the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare,
inscribed by Mrs 'Fougasse' Bird in pencil,
to purchase or for more information
Rennies Seaside Modern
47 The Old High Street
01303 242427 or 07986 834084 anytime
Thursdays to Sundays or by appointment
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