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(en) UK, Media: Obituary, Arthur Moyse - Anarchist and artist who loved to draw for alternative publications

From Dan Clore <clore@columbia-center.org>
Date Thu, 13 Mar 2003 11:40:25 +0100 (CET)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The anarchist, artist and bus conductor Arthur Moyse, who
has died aged 88, seems to have attended every street
protest in London from the 1930s onwards. He was also
involved in the London scene of the 1960s, especially the
literary part around Soho's Better Books shop. It was along
the way that Arthur became a self-taught artist, a
cartoonist and an art critic. 

He poured out a torrent of drawings, paintings and collages
for almost any alternative publication, in any country that
asked his help. His most consistent input was for Freedom,
the Whitechapel-based anarchist newspaper for which he was
art critic and cartoonist from the late 1960s to the early

A day out with Arthur was an event. He had built up a
circuit of the London art scene, which he constantly
criticised. He would have a bundle of invitations to
openings, and present me as his agent. 

Arthur was born in County Wexford to Irish working-class
parents, and moved to London about the same time as his
father, a merchant seaman, was lost at sea. He often used to
recount - Arthur often used to recount many things - that on
his father's death, the authorities sent a £5 note and gave
his mother a job as a cleaner. The family moved to
Shepherd's Bush in west London, where he lived for the rest
of his life. 

He spent his youth involved in leftwing activities. He was
at the battle of Cable Street in 1936, when the British
Union of Fascists were prevented from marching into the East
End. His time as a factory worker ended in 1939, when he was
conscripted into the army. He fought in various actions,
including the airborne landings at Arnhem in 1944. He was
court-martialled twice for insubordination. 

It was almost by accident that, after the war, he ended up
as a bus conductor - always refusing promotion to driver.
Proud of his working-class roots and slightly condescending
to "middle-class" anarchists, he defined working class as
getting up at five in the morning in Bradford to go to work
in the rain. He was constantly involved in union activity
and local politics, and took up with the anarchist movement
through visits to Speakers Corner in Hyde Park. He got to
know several of the speakers and became involved with
Freedom Press. 

In the late 1970s Arthur set up his own occasional magazine
called ZeroOne, which consisted of a front cover. The
British Museum used to send letters demanding copies. He
also had his ZeroOne gallery, which comprised the toilet in
Freedom Press. 

Arthur had a long relationship with the Flowers art
galleries. There was a personal exhibition at the old
D'Arblay Street site in 1977, and Arthur contributed to many
other events organised by the Flowers group. A special one
was the exhibition of the letters and postcards he had sent
over the years to Rachel Flowers, the daughter of the
family. He would not have liked the term "godfather", but he
had more or less that role. 

Arthur was known for his succession of small dogs. He took
them on marches, demonstrations, everywhere, and included
them in most of his drawings and paintings. The loss of the
last one, Vicki, coinciding with his physical decline, meant
that he had no particular reason to go out any more. He
spent the last couple of years in his Shepherd's Bush flat
surrounded by dust, his accumulated collections of comics,
first editions of everything and enough small magazines with
his illustrations to fill a museum. 

· Arthur Moyse, anarchist and artist, born June 21 1914;
died February 22 2003 

by David Peers
Thursday March 13, 2003
The Guardian

Dan Clore

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