This collage screen was made by the actor and artist Kenneth Halliwell for the literary agent Peggy Ramsey.

Ramsey was the agent of Halliwell’s partner, the playwright Joe Orton.

Orton is celebrated today for his comic plays, but he is also remembered for the 1962 court case in which he and Halliwell were found guilty of defacing Islington library books by collaging their covers. Halliwell also used pictures ripped from the books to collage the walls of the couple’s flat in Islington’s Noel Road.

Halliwell continued to make collage after his imprisonment, and Ramsey encouraged him by commissioning this work. The screen features hundreds of images of cats.

In 1967 Halliwell staged his first and only exhibition of his collage work. Later that year he killed Orton and committed suicide immediately after the murder.

Islington Museum owns 43 of the library book covers defaced by Orton and Halliwell, together with one of Halliwell’s framed collages from the 1967 exhibition. This screen now joins these works in the collection in the year which marks the 50th anniversary of Orton and Halliwell’s deaths


The artwork is being sold as part of the collection of the late Keith Barwell who bought it at an auction in 1999 at the Royal Court Theatre. The artwork was part of the Peggy Ramsay collection before this and was auctioned to raise money for the Royal Co

Islington Museum

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