Street artist to install Orton artwork in University of Leicester library

Posted by ap507 at Jun 19, 2017 10:23 AM |
British artist Stewy to make iconic image to mark 50th anniversary of death of renowned playwright

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 19 June 2017

A renowned street artist will be at the University of Leicester on Tuesday 20 June to create an image of celebrated playwright Joe Orton.

British street artist Stewy intends to make his stencil of the Leicester writer while working both at the Little Theatre and the University of Leicester.

The commission is part of a programme of events marking 50 years of the death of Orton.  Orton was born in Leicester in 1933 and after winning a scholarship to RADA in 1951, he met Kenneth Halliwell. Halliwell would become Orton’s partner, collaborator and eventually his murderer. Throughout his life, Orton wrote many acclaimed plays including: Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Loot and What the Butler Saw.

Stewy is a British street artist and psychogeographer who makes hand-cut, life-size stencils of British icons in locations specific to each person. He depicts eccentrics, misfits and forward thinkers, people who pushed boundaries, including Alan Bennett, Billy Bragg, John Cooper Clarke, Quentin Crisp, Tracey Emin, Joe Meek, Frank Sidebottom, Mary Wollstonecraft and Benjamin Zephaniah. He has also made a series of stencils representing the A to Z of indigenous British animals reclaiming towns and cities. His stencil of Joe Orton was originally made outside Islington South Library, London ( 2011), where Orton and Halliwell stole and redesigned books. 

Leading Orton academic Dr Emma Parker, Associate Professor in Post-War and Contemporary Literature at the University of Leicester, said: ”I am delighted that Stewy is making his iconic image of Joe Orton in the University Library to mark the 50th anniversary of his death in 2017. Given that Orton was arrested for stealing library books, I think he would have appreciated the irony of his image being placed near the self-service check-out machines!”

Dr Parker said that as part of the year of events marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Orton there is:

  • a short documentary to accompany the artwork, which will feature a rare interview with Stewy.
  • What the Artist Saw: Art Inspired by the Life and Work of Joe Orton, New Walk Museum and Art Gallery, Leicester, 29 July - 22 October 2017. Curated by Emma Parker, Michael Petry (MOCA, London) and Simon Lake (New Walk).
  • Crimes of Passion: The Story of Joe Orton, National Justice Museum, 22 July - 1 October. Curated by Emma Parker and Bev Baker.
  • Special Orton event at Little Theatre on 9 August supported by University of Leicester. Acclaimed actress Frances Barber will read the hilarious prank letters of complaint that Orton penned under the pseudonym Edna Welthorpe alongside new Edna letters commissioned from top comedy writers such as Jesse Armstrong (Peep Show, The Thick of It), Arthur Mathews (Father Ted) and Caroline Moran (Raised by Wolves). BAFTA-nominated filmmaker Chris Shepherd is collaborating with Emma Parker on an Arts Council-funded project in which Chris pays tribute to Orton through a new Edna-inspired animation starring Alison Steadman. Tickets for ‘Yours Faithfully, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)’ available from The Little Theatre from 1 June 2017:
  • Parker and Shepherd are also running a creative writing competition that invites post-16 students to embody Orton’s mischievous spirit and write a new Edna Welthorpe letter. The competition offers students an opportunity to learn how to channel anger into humour and use satire as an alternative to hate speech. Deadline 30 June. The winning letter will be read at the event on 9 August. Creative writing competition:

The University of Leicester also houses the Joe Orton Collection: Joe Orton Collection:


Note to newsdesk:

For interviews contact Dr Emma Parker on:


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