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The personal papers of the performance artist, Ian Hinchliffe (1942-2010) have been transferred to our Archives.

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Hinchliffe posing with his art installation, Lina Garnade Foundation Course Exhibition, Southwark Community Education, 1991

Ian Hinchliffe was a provocative performance and installation artist, painter, occasional small-screen star and keen fisherman. Whilst he is said to have refused to engage in creative self-analysis, his oft-reported expression ‘It’s not over when the gig ends’ indicates the all-consuming nature of his absurd, unpredictable, mischievous and occasionally menacing art.

Hinchliffe’s performances happened in a variety of contexts, often moving beyond the traditional gallery context of art, to perform on the street or in a pub. His bizarre costumes, props, and range of mannerisms such as gurning, point to his influences – namely, vaudeville, music hall, Northern comedy and traditional jazz. Born in Huddersfield in 1942, he experienced his most creative years in the 1970s and 80s. It was in the early 1970s that he formed the Matchbox Purveyors (with Dave Stephens), a creative vehicle that allowed both solo performances and ensemble pieces with an array of musicians, poets, actors and visual artists. Other notable collaborations occurred with Nosepaint – the predecessor to Beaconsfield Gallery Vauxhall – and Forkbeard Fantasy.

His output also included some film work – having acted in ‘Walter’ (1982), ‘Stormy Monday’ (1989), and ‘Diary of a Sane Man’ (1998) – as well as writing, having contributed regular columns to Performance Magazine.

The collection, primarily comprising of promotional posters, programmes and photographs of his performances, provides insight into what would otherwise be a largely ephemeral art form. It also contains a small number of annotated ‘scripts’ of his pieces, and pages from his notebooks, a combination of coloured sketches and notes, which give a window into Hinchliffe’s creative processes. It also includes a collection of his illustrated fishing diaries– his techniques as an artist repurposed to record his devotion to fishing.

A summary of collection is available through our online catalogue (reference: IH), with a detailed box list available on request. The bulk of the collection had previously been selected and sorted chronologically by Rebecca Shatwell and Naomi Siderfin, towards the exhibition Estate: The Ian Hinchliffe Retrospective (1998) at Beaconsfield. Complete cataloguing of the collection will occur in due course. Email us at to discover more about the collection and to arrange access. 

The Ian Hinchliffe collection is the first in a series of archives that Queen Mary is acquiring in relation to the history of performance art in the UK. It was acquired from Beaconsfield with the collaboration of Dr. Dominic Johnson (QMUL Drama) and the Live Art Development Agency.


Further reading:

Craig, Sandy, ‘Dreams and Deconstructions: alternative theatre in Britain’ (Oxford: Amber Lane Press, 1980)

McCorquodale, Duncan, Siderfin, Naomi and Stallabrass, Julian (eds.), ‘Occupational Hazard: Critical Writing on Recent British Art’ (London: Black Dog, 1998)

Klein, Jennie, ‘Live Art in the UK’, in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 96 (Volume 32: Number 3, September 2010): 


Beaconsfield Gallery 

Unfinished Histories: Record the History of Alternative Theatre 

John Fleming’s blog – SO IT GOES 

Trailer for ‘HINCH’ documentary

‘Housework’ (Hinchliffe/ Szczelkun) recording, 1987