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ID number:  BIRRC-A1054
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Schwarz, Hans
Title / Object name:  Portrait of Ivor Cutler
Object type:  Painting
Date made:  c. 1980s
Materials:  Acrylic on board
Measurements:  W 58.5 x H 75.5 cm
BIRRC-A1054.jpg

Ivor Cutler was a poet, song-writer, performer, teacher, humourist and classic British eccentric. He was born in Glasgow to parents who had fled Eastern European pogroms. Cutler was a drama and music teacher for over thirty years, with an unorthodox teaching style that involved spontaneous, improvised lessons. His eccentricities delighted his pupils, but tended to terrify parents and head teachers. He briefly taught at AS Neill's Summerhill school, innovative in its free style of teaching, and continued teaching in inner city London primary schools until 1980.
Concurrent with his teaching, he discovered his voice as a songwriter in the 1950s. After years of attempting to get his songs published, he decided to sing them himself and released his first album in 1961. Cutler's distinctive Scottish baritone, generally accompanied by harmonium, became a trademark of his work as much as his imaginative, often surreal lyrics. His singular style found a place at the BBC, where he broadcast on Home Service radio shows like Monday Night at Home and television shows such as The Acker Bilk Show and Late Night Line-Up. Further mainstream fame came when he appeared in the Beatles’ film Magical Mystery Tour (1967) as the bus conductor Buster Bloodvessel and when one of his albums, Ludo (1967), was produced by George Martin. He was introduced to a new, younger audience in the 1970s when he became known for his poetry performances on John Peel’s radio programmes and when his albums were re-issued in the 1990s.

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