Modern Toss – Modern Cloth

Modern Toss’s cartoons are small and perfectly formed, making them ideal for weekly appearances in the Guardian and on birthday cards in independent shops. Indeed, I once purchased a ‘Home clubber’ card for my mother – it went down very well. ‘Modern Cloth’ at Ink’d is their latest exhibition. As the name suggests, cloth is the medium of choice this time round, an interesting change from the prints, cards and booklets that Modern Toss is known for.

As the exhibition opened on the day of the wedding (you don’t need me to tell you whose), there are bound to be some obligatory references. Thankfully these are not the focus of the exhibition, despite them being amusing, particularly Drive-By Abuser’s Royal Wedding Mug.

Bad language and banal situations are the staple of a Modern Toss cartoon and these are all present at Ink’d. In addition to ‘challenging tea towels designs’ and cloth bags, there are also new collectable prints. My favourite item though has to be the concept book cover for ‘Britain’s Biggest Cunts’– I doubt Piers Morgan is aware of his involvement in this.

The exhibition is described as ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘innovative’. That may be a little extreme. What makes the Modern Toss cartoons so enjoyable are their simplicity, wit and bad language (naturally). These are all present at ‘Modern Cloth’ but we knew that already. The tea towels might indeed be challenging hanging from the cooker when your Nan comes round for tea but stuck up in a frame, it all becomes a bit sterilized and ‘artsy’. The cartoon may be amusing but the point is that it’s on a tea towel, something that is very easy to forget.

Having said that, the swearing jacket is certainly a novel idea; for me it was the star of the exhibition. Designed by Gresham Blake and based on the ‘Periodic Table of Swearing’, the jacket is a tantalizing suggestion of how Modern Toss’s cartoons might be used in the future. With an animated TV series under their belts plus an iPhone app, it will be interesting see what happens next.

Where: Ink’d, Brighton www.ink-d.co.uk

When: 29 April – 29 May 2011