Glass Tank introduces ‘The Insurgent Artist, George McBean’

Monday, 26 January 2015

George McBean artwork

The Glass Tank gallery at Oxford Brookes has today (26th January) opened a fascinating new exhibition featuring the retrospective works of animator, illustrator and humanitarian George McBean.

The exhibition comes to Oxford Brookes as part of the 13th Oxford Human Rights Festival (OHRF) which is organised by the University’s students and will be taking place next month (18-21 February 2015).

The exhibition will run in The Glass Tank exhibition space in the Abercrombie Building, Gipsy Lane Campus until Friday 27th February. Admission to the exhibition is free and open to all members of the public.

Of his involvement with the OHRF and his retrospective exhibition, McBean said: “I’m very honoured and grateful to the team of students at Oxford Brookes who have invited me to participate in this year’s festival and for them to have selected the 45 examples of work shown.

The educational value of these individual pieces is explained in captions. Their effectiveness has been judged by audience research, by the people the artwork was designed for rather than by any panel of judges. It is indeed a bonus to show these to a wider audience at the OHRF.”

Linked with McBean’s work with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the exhibition shows visual explanations of health information for people living in remote communities across the world to help them better understand how to protect their children. Providing these materials to pre-literate parents can greatly increase a child’s chance of survival. The works showcase a variety of visual communication techniques used to impart information and overcome barriers.

Much of McBean’s working life was spent at UNICEF where he worked in the graphics department dealing with Animation for Children’s Rights.

A self-proclaimed insurgent, McBean’s visual artist status within UNICEF was considered rebellious and non-conventional by the UN.

His research into Visual Literacy among rural populations in Nepal has been highlighted in the New Internationalist and was described in the book People, Pictures and Power as “the most important visual literacy study ever done.”

He was also instrumental in the forming one of UNICEF’s most successful partnerships with more than 100 animation studios worldwide including Disney, Pixar, Warner Bros, Dreamworks, Hanna Barbera and Cartoon Network.  His designs and animated films have been distributed worldwide by the United Nations.

George McBean will be giving a talk and Q&A about his life, work and the exhibition on Wednesday 18th February 2015 at 7pm in the Glass Tank. To reserve your free ticket to this event please email Joanna Walker, Glass Tank Curator on

More information about the exhibition and other events coming up in The Glass Tank can be found on the Oxford Brookes website.

OHRF will bring together people of different backgrounds to participate in a culture packed festival that engages with a constant issue from across the globe. Find out more on the festival’s dedicated webpages.