Young Mo, Nimrod
21 Jan 1942 - 01 Dec 2013
Martin Sharp established a strong reputation for the originality and impact of his graphics whilst living in London during the 1960s, where he designed psychedelic posters and album covers for musicians and bands including Bob Dylan and Cream. Returning to Australia in 1972, he became more widely-known in Sydney for his establishment of The Yellow House artist's collective in Kings Cross, his role in the restoration of Luna Park and for his passionate championing of US singer Tiny Tim.
During the 1970s and 1980s Sharp was commissioned to design posters for Sydney's Nimrod Theatre. The latter, founded in 1970 by John Bell, Richard Wherrett and Ken Horler acquired a reputation during the 1970s as a home for exciting and innovative drama by a new generation of Australian playwrights.
First published individually during this period, this poster and six others were reprinted as a set in 1982 as a fund-raiser for the theatre. Six of the posters were designed to promote productions, while another was created to mark the 10th anniversary of Nimrod's establishment as a theatre. For this 1982 (second) edition of the posters, new stencils were made and the posters were printed on higher quality paper than the original print run. Sharp also created sets and costumes for a number of Nimrod productions but is best known for the posters he produced.
In this poster 'Young Mo, Nimrod' originally designed to promote the play 'Young Mo' by Steve J Spears (1977), directed by Richard Wherrett, Sharp has combined the features of lead actor Garry McDonald with those of 'Mo' - the subject of his role in the play as Roy Rene (Mo MacCackie). The image became more widely known, following its adoption as Nimrod's 'official face'. Mo and Roy Rene were stage names used by comedian Henry van der Sluys (1892-1954). During 1916-25 in a vaudeville duo 'Stiffy and Mo' with Nat Phillips (1883-1932), Henry van der Sluys adopted a white face and painted black beard; also starring in a popular 1940s Australian radio series 'McCackie Mansions'.
Mo (Nimrod Theatre poster)
screenprint, printed in red, yellow and black ink from three stencils
89.5 x 45.7 cm image; 91.0 x 57.8 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r., black fibre-tipped pen "Martin Sharp". Dated bot.c., black fibre-tipped pen "2.12.82".
Gift of Peter Kingston 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Estate of Martin Sharp. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Referenced in 6 publications
Karen Hughes., The Australian, 'Artist on the street', Sydney, 11 Feb 1981. page number unknown; general reference to 'Mo'.
Elwyn Lynn, The Weekend Australian, 'Nostalgia brough into Sharp relief', pg. 13, Sydney, 06 Sep 1986-07 Sep 1986, 13 (illus.). not AGNSW impression
Julian Meyrick, See how it runs: Nimrod and the New Wave, 'Chapter 5: Nimrod's repertoire 1974-79', pg. 111-130, Sydney, 2002, front & back cover (colour illus.), 129-130.
Just for fun: the prints of Martin Sharp, 'Notes of key works', pg. 7-8, Adelaide, 2000, 8. not AGNSW impression; titled 'Mo (Nimrod Theatre poster)'
Ted Owen, High art: a history of the psychedelic poster, 'Martin Sharp', pg. 139-141, London, 1999, 140 (colour illus.).
Survey 14: Martin Sharp, Melbourne, 1981.