Warhammer is now a global phenomenon but it all started in Newark.
This week, artwork and dioramas from the Nottinghamshire company that created Warhammer will be on display.
Starting Friday, December 3, Harry the Hammer & Friends: An Art Exhibition from the Early Years of Warhammer, Citadel Miniatures and Games Workshop will be on display at Stoke Hall in East Stoke.
The exhibit will include the original painting from the game’s first set, featuring the central character Harry the Hammer as he has come to be known, and dioramas from Warhammer, as well as paintings by Chaos Broo, the cover of the First Citadel Compendium and Mona & the Moonman.
The board game that has grown into a blockbuster global brand originated in Newark. To be exact, in 1983 Warhammer was established at 10 Victoria Street, Newark, which was then the headquarters of Citadel, the miniatures division of Games Workshop.
It was a collaboration between Bryan Ansell, Richard Halliwell (Hal) and Rick Priestley, with in-house artwork created by artist Tony Ackland and the box cover painted by local fantasy artist John Blanche.
The five men had known each other before, but this was the first time Citadel, which employed 11 people and was run by Bryan and his wife, Diane, produced its own game.
This first edition of the game was sold as a three-volume set, with all the art, writing, and layout done on a drawing board, word processor, and copier in the office of the Citadel.
The game has become synonymous with Games Workshop and 40 years on the Warhammer genre – in the guise of its Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer: Age of Sigma – is still considered Games Workshop’s most successful product.
The owners of the work say that this is the first time that an exhibition of the first works of art has been organized and that it is rightly held at the headquarters of the company Ansells Wargames Foundry, which still produces many miniatures. originals of the Citadel dating from the 1980s.
Diane said: âIt’s been 30 years since Bryan and I left Games Workshop and this will be the first time that original art has been exhibited. I’m sure players past and present will be interested in coming to see our amazing collection.
âAt Newark Citadel we were one big happy family, we socialized a lot together, dining out and going to clubs and concerts in Nottingham. There was no office policy. The only dissatisfaction was with the coffee machine and whose turn it was to refill it. “
Bryan added, âWorking with the early Citadel / GWs was a really nice way to make a living. The company has remained of a good size which has allowed us to do interesting things without getting too bogged down in bureaucracy or internal conflicts. A realm of benign chaos itself!
“I have had the opportunity to be in the center of things, to witness these exciting times of early growth up close and to work with many stubbornly idiosyncratic, talented and caring people.”
Artist Tony Ackland said of those early days: âI worked at Wedgewood in Stoke in that time and it was a natural progression that I would work for Bryan full time, because I was ready for a move.
âI wanted to be involved with Bryan and what he was doing. He was the only person in the Midlands who was ambitious and undoubtedly the driving force behind Citadel and Warhammer.
âWe had hardly any equipment. We had a Xerox word processor, which printed like a typewriter, while I had a plastic drawing board that I brought with me and we also had a copier. That was it.”
Harry The Hammer & Friends, an art exhibit from the private collection of Bryan & Diane Ansell, runs from Friday December 3 through Sunday December 12 at Wargames Foundry. Tickets cost Â£ 12. Reserve your spot at www.tickettailor.com/events/stokehallevents/610419
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