Who was he?
Kenneth Townsend (1931-99) managed to capture the humorous side of life through his art, drawings and writing.
He was based in Hastings and is known to have worked as a freelance designer for Hornsea Pottery, Chance Brothers (glass), Cuckoobird Productions (textiles) Merit (games) and James Galt & Co. Ltd (toys). He was also the art director for Pickpocket Books from 1991-1998.
He exhibited his abstract art both at home and abroad and is represented in public collections in England, Scotland and Holland. He is the late brother of Dennis Townsend of Iden Pottery in Rye.
His cartoons are certainly endearing, whimsical and unforgettable. They are mostly found decorating standard 6in. (15cm) white ceramic tiles, for which there are well over 30 known designs.
There are also a number of pieces of art that have never been published.
Perhaps his most recognizable is the animal series 'Menagerie', which adorned ceramic tiles. There are believed to be 26 different designs. A different style also appeared on his tiles featuring the 12 horoscope signs. Another popular series was the Scenes of London, which was also adopted by Chance Brothers (below).
The same style is seen in the Scenes of London slumped glass trays produced by Chance Brothers, in Smethwick, Birmingham. These were produced in 1972 and came as a set of six, plus a lone one featuring a Scottish Piper (1973) and a rarely seen Shakespeare series (1974). This range extended further the figures seen only on Ken's independantly produced tiles.
Another firm which adopted some of the Menagerie series was Weatherby Pottery and these can be seen on small dishes and mugs.
His other notable work includes the Love Mug series for Hornsea Pottery in 1976.
Ken was also a very productive illustrator for children's books. In particular his own book, Felix the Bald-headed Lion proved immensely popular and was chosen as an outstanding book for the Junior Literary Guild in USA.
Illustrated (right) is an example from one book, Tootoo's Friends on the Farm, written by Warren Chetham-Strode.
In conjunction with Cuckoobird Productions Ltd. Ken produced some stunning textile designs, based on the cartoon animals.
Besides the Lion King (see right), a tiger also featured. See this page for more details.
Ken was contracted to produce humorous cartoons for three games. Details can be seen here.
The Monkey (right) can be seen on the box of the Marble Fun game by Merit.