Dear diary

Eleven illustrators have brought to life extracts from the diary of Oscar Kirk, a 14-year-old messenger boy working in London Docks nearly one hundred years ago, for an exhibition opening at the Museum of London Docklands this month.

Kirk was 14 when he started to work in the West and East India Docks in 1918 as a messenger between the docks and the Port of London Authority. His diaries are on display at The Museum of London Docklands and will be available to read in the exhibition space during the show.

The illustrations, which were commissioned by beautiful kids magazine Anorak, explore Kirk’s childhood writings, which mainly focus on the weather, what’s for dinner and endearingly nonchalant reactions to dramatic events such as pulling a man out of the Dock’s waters.

Ben Javens has illustrated 27 April 1919, a day when Kirk made an engine using diagrams from children’s annual Chatterbox, made his sandwiches for the next day and watched the snow.

27 April 1919 Ben Javens

Jack Teagle illustrated 8 April 1919, when Kirk went boxing at Gough Street with his friends Jones and came home to a pie and tart.

by Jack Teagle
8 April 1919 by Jack Teagle

Other illustrators involved in the show include Jack Hudson, Gemma Corell, Paul Blow, Michael Kirkham, Supermundane, Milly Freeman, Eleni Karlorkoti, William Goldsmith and Adrian Fleet.

Illustrations inspired by the diary of Oscar Kirk can be seen from 29 October-22 November at Museum of London Docklands, No 1 Warehouse
West India Quay
London E14.

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