Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

image by Jude Monague

What’s in the Air: a February exhibition of sketches and stories from a graphic novel

Jude Montague talks about her long-term work on her graphic novel about her granddad and pioneer radio in Manchester in advance of her February exhibition at the Twelve Hundred Postcards Bar.

The book’s working title is What’s in the Air, taken from a column from the first Radio Times magazine, a new publication that carried details of programmes for six BBC wireless stations (2LO5IT2ZY, 5NO, 5WA and 5SC). 2ZY was the Manchester station and my grandfather Sydney was with the station right from the beginning. In fact it is where he and my grandmother Marjorie met.

The book reimagines their story and in doing so takes in many themes of the background of 1920s Manchester including music, manufacturing industries, the post-WW1 atmosphere and new design and technology.

My granddad’s role was that of a musician and a ‘cellist. At that time people had multiple functions at the small-scale radio stations and he was also ‘Uncle Sydney’ on the early radio stations.

I hope the book will make people appreciate the wonderful imaginative and innovative history of Manchester and how so many people from the north-west and beyond went to the city to work, drawn by the promise of making something new for their generation. There is a general idea that everything in the British Isles has to go through London, but the north has its own metropolises and they have their own connections to America. 2ZY was a Manchester-American operation. It actually can claim many radio firsts in Britain.

2ZY was one of the few amateur regional stations selected to form part of the British Broadcasting Company wireless network and therefore just as much the beginnings of the BBC as any of the other hubs, including London’s 2LO. And those two stations began to broadcast at roughly the same time, mid-November 1922.

This is my third graphic novel and all three have been about aspects of my life or my family life. This one has taken me the longest. It seems I have been working on this novel for a lifetime. It’s one of those projects that never gets finished but hopefully 2024 will be the year it gets completed.

I decided to show the pictures now to encourage this last push and also to help with uncoding the mystery of how a graphic novel might be constructed. Many people want to create pictorial stories of their life but don’t know where to start. By showing some of the bones underneath the bonnet (to mix my metaphor) I hope this exhibition will help with understanding part of the messiness of the process behind the scenes and visitors may get the confidence to use art and narrative to tell their own tales.

What’s in The Air Exhibition of work by Jude Montague. 2-25 February, Twelve Hundred Postcards, 80 Queen’s Road, Hastings TN34 1RL. Twelve Hundred Postcards use their gallery upstairs for free exhibition spaces for artists. (Not wheelchair accessible). If you would like to book a slot please contact the owner David Brumley at


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Posted 18:29 Tuesday, Jan 16, 2024 In: Visual Arts

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