The Big Head Man

Work by Lawrence Gleadle

Curated by Godfrey Gleadle
in collaboration with Kendal James

Location: Bonington Atrium


*Bonington Gallery will be closed for the Bank Holiday from Friday 18 to Tuesday 23 April (inclusive). We will reopen on Wednesday 24 April at 10 am*


Lawrence Gleadle was a lithographic artist for Stafford and Co., Netherfield, Nottingham, in the 1920’s and 1930’s; at the time the largest printer of posters in England. After a long apprenticeship and years of experience he became ‘The Big Head Man’, the artist who drew the portraits of the cinema stars and advertising characters. It was a title given to him by the other artists, of which he was very proud, as the ‘Big Head Man’ was regarded as the most skilled of the artists.

He kept samples of his work but left in WW2 and never returned to the trade. The posters were put away and forgotten for many years until given to his son Godfrey (Goff) Gleadle in the early 1980’s.

At that time it was very difficult to find out about or reproduce the posters and it wasn’t until 2015 that Goff was able to identify and date them and get them scanned on to computer files so prints could be made. Kendal James, a Portsmouth artist, was able to repair and restore damage on the computer files. She and Goff teamed up with the aim of getting Lawrence’s work and talent recognised. Together they have held successful exhibitions in and around Portsmouth where they live, and even had a piece on the BBC One Show.

However, Lawrence was a Nottingham man and it is very much a Nottingham story, so it has always been an ambition to bring his story and his work back to Nottingham. It is particularly fitting to have this exhibition here at Nottingham Trent University, because before he began his apprenticeship aged 16, he had attended the Nottingham Municipal School Of Art, which later became the Nottingham College of Art and is now part of Nottingham Trent University.

In this exhibition you can see some of the original posters, prints of others, and see and read Lawrence’s story, the story of Stafford’s and the printing process, and the story of the posters themselves; how they were lost, found and restored, and their importance and place in British cinema history. There are also interesting stories attached to individual posters.



Fri 5 Apr 2019 - Sat 11 May 2019


Monday – Friday, 10 am – 5 pm; Saturday, 11 am – 3 pm



Thu 4 Apr 2019


5 pm – 7 pm, part of the preview for C/J

If you would like to attend this event please RSVP to confirm your attendance.

Coming Soon

Jun 2019 - Jun 2019
Art and Design Summer Show