Avatar of Jonesy

by Jonesy

Shrewsbury 2016: On the coldest of days, a cartoon festival that warmed the hearts of many

April 21, 2016 in General

brighty

The author braves the cold for the greater good PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

Steve Bright writes:

I arrived in Shrewsbury on Saturday morning with mild trepidation. It was my first Big Board duty in several years, and as a fully digital cartoonist these days, a little rusty when it comes to pen on paper, far less 8′ x 4′ canvas, slung over huge boards hinged in couples, and dotted throughout the splendour of The Square in the heart of Shrewsbury. As it turned out, rust was not the problem – an Arctic day in April put all other problems in the shade, as we all valiantly battled probably the coldest festival in its 13-year history. The digital artisans among us are well used to working in layers these days, but that doesn’t usually extend to a body-warmer, two t-shirts and a pair of long johns. It was bitter, but we all got there in the end, thanks to the sunny disposition of our hosts, helpers, and visitors in abundance, undeterred by the meagre degrees Celsius. And we were actually lucky (in keeping with the theme for this year’s event) apparently – the forecast had been snow, and indeed there were reports of some falling in the earlier hours of that morning.

clive_goddard2

Clive Goddard’s magnificent Big Board contribution PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

But rewind. The festival was all kicked off the night before, with a private viewing of this year’s selling exhibition at the Bear Steps gallery, which incorporated the official opening speeches from the Deputy Mayor, followed by retiring (though not in a shy way) festival Chairman, Rich Skipworth, who managed to convey a mixture of caution about the festival’s future as public funding diminishes, with real optimism that it may yet flourish beyond all previous incarnations, through grants and private initiatives. Fingers crossed!

This was followed by a real treat for all who made the short walk down to The Lion Hotel to enjoy Shrewsbury débutante Tony Husband’s deeply poignant illustrated talk, guiding us through his highly-acclaimed book, ‘Take Care, Son’, chronicling his father’s dementia with great warmth, wit, and obvious love.

From there, a splendid late evening gathering at the Shiraz, for those who had managed to stave off their hunger until darkness, followed no doubt by the odd nightcap or two back at the hotel before bedtime (or in my case, a quick drive home for a couple of hours’ kip before heading back in the following morning).

hilary_price

Pens across the ocean: American cartoonist Hilary Price PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

The Saturday 9a.m. briefing was the traditional signal for the ‘serious’ work to begin. Friends old and new assembled to brace ourselves for the cold and the rigours of our allotted tasks, before dispersing around the town to dispense our customary assorted forms of cartoon magic upon the hordes. It all went typically splendidly from there, by all accounts. Caricatures were drawn in abundance, the snow-blinding whiteness of the Big Boards gradually metamorphosed into wonderful expanses of colour and wit. Talks were delivered and workshops eagerly attended by young aspiring cartoonists being helped and encouraged onto the first rungs of the ladder leading to (hopefully) future official festival invitations. There was cartoon ‘busking’, cartoon exhibitions, digital and traditional opportunities for the general public to try their own hands at cartooning, and of course, it was all weaved together by the S-mile trail wending its way through the picturesque Shrewsbury streets, with cartoon treats at every turn. As always, the hard-working organisers and their team of helpers had laid on a veritable cornucopia of cartooning for all, to enjoy, and we were rewarded with the wide smiles and laughter of the visiting public in return. Our thanks, as always, go to those unsung heroes who made it all possible whilst we got most of the plaudits. And the musicians – mustn’t forget them. The temperature in The Square appeared to rise a couple of degrees as soon as they struck up the first of many songs that kept us going throughout the day.

noel_ford

Noel Ford’s masterpiece in pastels PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

The evening meal at The Peach Tree had us donning our glad rags (in my own case, getting my kilt out of its mothballs), and relaxing with friends, old and new. Internationally, Hillary Price made her début from the USA, whilst Dean Alston once again swam all the way from Perth, Australia as he has done for most of the 13 festivals so far. And then there was Terry Anderson, all the way from Paisley…

Many old friends and colleagues were missed, toasted, and talked about, and will hopefully return to future festivals. The intention is that if all goes well with future funding, the festival can be restored to a full two-day event, and the number of invited participating cartoonists can once again be increased. Again, fingers crossed!

dink

First time Big Boarder Chris Williams (aka ‘Dink’) PICTURE © MIKA SCHICK

And perhaps the signs are good, if you believe in omens; our traditional ukulele-led sing song at The Lion, that melodiously took us from Saturday night into the wee small hours of Sunday morning, ended with those of us who went the distance being treated to the most lovely surprise from a group of around 30 young people, still up and enjoying the Lion’s hospitality in the adjoining lounge area. Having heard us through the adjoining doors, they asked us to play them a couple of Beatles numbers before we called it a night. It turned out they were the European Union Chamber Orchestra, unwinding from a concert in Shrewsbury that day before heading for Llandudno in the morning for their next gig. They made their appreciation known for our musical efforts, before enriching the very air around us with their truly magnificent harmonies, as our jaws hit the floor. A wonderfully surreal ending to another cracking festival, from voices like Angels…

Avatar of Jonesy

by Jonesy

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2016

April 10, 2016 in General

The-Square-by-Wilbur

‘The Square’ © Wilbur Dawbarn

Genteel, historic Shrewsbury is about to be invaded by hordes of cartoonists and cartoon lovers, with both parties looking forward to lots of mayhem and laughter – and not a little learning too, with workshops and talks also being provided.

Now coming up to its 13th year, The Shrewsbury  Cartoon Festival is an annual event at which professional cartoonists from all over the UK and overseas come together to draw and paint cartoons and caricatures for the general public. You won’t be surprised to learn that cartoonists are an amiable breed and more than happy to engage in conversation – some will even chat as they work, although the question “Where do you get your ideas?” might be best avoided…

melodrawma

‘Melodrawma” © Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation

The event draws a huge audience every year with its centrepiece being the live drawing of about 15 enormous cartoons in Shrewsbury Town Square, along with live caricaturing by some of the UK’s top professionals.

2902816

Private Eye cartoonist Andrew Birch takes a break from TV script writing (see previous Blog article) to draw a ‘Big Board’

Here are just a few more examples of what visitors to this year’s festival can see and do:

Workshops

Aspiring cartoonists can flourish under the expert tutelage of the likes of Tim Harries and Harry Venning.

Talks

Cartooning has its serious side too, as Cartoon Rights Network International’s Terry Anderson will clearly demonstrate in a talk about the threats to life and liberty faced by cartoonists the world over. The capacity of cartoonists to lighten the darkest moments without trivialising them will be covered by Tony Husband as he talks about his Dad’s dementia, so movingly rendered in his book, ‘Take Care, Son’.

Exhibitions

In addition to the usual ‘themed’ cartoon galleries, visitors can also enjoy exhibitions such as “Dead Ringers – The Unluckiest Birds” – a digital exhibition of the artwork from the quirky birdy book by acclaimed cartoonists Rupert Besley, John Roberts, Noel Ford, Cathy Simpson, Roger Penwill, and Bill Stott.

homepage-composite

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2016 takes place on Saturday 16th April. To find out more visit the website here.

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival 2015

April 20, 2015 in News

AS USUAL, IT seems like a dream now. As with most Cartoon Festivals, they come and go in a flash with so many activities and social get-togethers lubricated by the products of many hostelries that ‘real life’ doesn’t seem real for the first couple of days back home.

The Twelfth Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival (yes – TWELFTH!) went off with its customary sparkle provided by the town’s influx of cartoonists from all over the country. Oh, and one all the way from Australia, Dean Alston, just so that the ‘international’ tag could be legitimized!

The high-quality exhibition at the Bear Steps Gallery was on the theme of ‘Style’ this year and it was probably as loose-fitting a theme as you could get allowing an awful lot of leg-room for cartoony inspiration. Shrewsbury is spoiled by having a unique exhibition like this every year – on display for over a month, not just during the festival weekend.

The Market Square, as always provided a focal point for the public to spot cartoonists and caricaturists at work. The well-established favourites, the Big Boards, were as usual becoming repositories for brilliant works of cartoon art and well-thought out gags. The new concept of ‘cartoon busking’, initially performed by Roger Penwill and Noel Ford and the ‘quick-on-the-draw’ style entertainment of the Cartoon Melodrawma were more ingenious ways of bringing the concept of cartooning memorably under the public gaze. Workshops in both caricaturing and comic strips were on offer, thanks to Terry Anderson and Tim Harries and Guardian cartoonist Martin Rowson gave an illustrated talk on his view of the last five years of a coalition government.

As usual, the cartoonists sampled the hospitality of various establishments around the town and left the paper tabelcoths in the Henry Tudor House restaurant liberally spattered with cartoony inspiration.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is probably the longest-running UK cartoon festival ever and its organisers are already meeting to discuss the agenda for the thirteenth one in 2016. Contrary to traditional belief, that’s a lucky number for many people.

Success for Shrewsbury festival

April 30, 2014 in Events, General, News

Shrewsbury 2014: The music-themed festival was sponsored by Procartoonists.org

Shrewsbury 2014: The music-themed festival was sponsored by Procartoonists.org

The Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, which took place at the weekend, drew huge crowds and was deemed a success by all involved. And it has already been given a major boost for next year.

The Shropshire Star reports that the festival has just won a £2,000 grant for next year’s event. Every penny will count as this year major funding was cut, so the 2014 festival was run on a shoestring – with a little help from Procartoonists.org.

However, as the organisers predicted, the public would not have noticed as the festival was as lively and busy as ever.

Here is a video of the Big Boards that the Shropshire Star created:

And here are more photos of the event, taken by Kasia Kowalska, that show the breadth of activities that took place at this year’s festival.

Andrew Birch and Kate Charlesworth at work on their Big Boards, the most high-profile element of the festival. They're hard to miss.

Andrew Birch and Kate Charlesworth at work on their Big Boards. The most high-profile element of the cartoon festival, the boards are impossible to miss.

Rich Skipworth, who has taken over as festival chairman from Roger Penwill, adds colour to his board

Rich Skipworth, who is tasked with organising next year’s event having taken over as festival chairman from Roger Penwill , adds some colour to his board

For the music-themed festival Rosie Brooks set herself the task of illustrating the story of Wagner's Ring Cycle in a few hours

For the music-themed festival, Rosie Brooks set herself the task of illustrating the story of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in just a few hours

Daniel Kawczynski, Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury, is caricatured by Jonathan Cusick

Daniel Kawczynski, the Member of Parliament for Shrewsbury, is caricatured by Jonathan Cusick

Alex Hughes, steampunk caricaturist outfit was enough to, er, draw a crowd

Alex Hughes’s steampunk caricaturist outfit was enough to, er, draw a crowd

Harry Venning, creator of Clare in the Community did a talk that was part cartooning part stand-up comedy

Harry Venning, creator of Clare in the Community, as seen in The Guardian and heard on BBC Radio 4,  did a talk that was part cartooning part stand-up comedy

Wilbur Dawbarn hosted cartooning workshops for all ages, as did Cathy Simpson

Wilbur Dawbarn hosted cartooning workshops for all ages, as did Cathy Simpson and Tim Harries

The participating cartoonists were: Rupert Besley, Steve Best, Andrew Birch, Rosie Brooks, Dave Brown, Kate Charlesworth, Jonathan Cusick, Wilbur Dawbarn, Noel Ford, Alex Hughes, Tim Harries, Tim Leatherbarrow, Chichi Parish, Roger Penwill, Helen Pointer, John Roberts, Royston Robertson, Chris Ryder, Cathy Simpson, Rich Skipworth, Bill Stott, The Surreal McCoy, Harry Venning and Gerard Whyman.

Instant cartoons in the Square, handed out to the public for donations to the festival, were a feature this year. John Roberts draws Dizzy Gillespie

John Roberts draws Dizzy Gillespie. Instant cartoons drawn in the Square and handed out to the public for donations to the festival were a feature this year

Royston Robertson and Matt Buck add to the instant cartoons gallery

Royston Robertson and Matt Buck add to the instant cartoons gallery

Finally the Melodrawma is a great illustration of what makes the festival unique. A live comic-strip drawn to the accompaniment of narration, music and sound effects. The Melodrawma team this year was Andrew Birch, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and The Surreal McCoy.

Finally the Melodrawma is a great illustration of what makes the festival unique. It is a live comic-strip drawn to the accompaniment of narration, music, sound effects … and audience participation. The team this year was Andrew Birch, Noel Ford, Roger Penwill, Royston Robertson, Bill Stott and The Surreal McCoy.

Avatar of Royston

by Royston

Shrewsbury 2014: Where to start?

April 28, 2014 in Events, General, News

Dave Brown of The Independent at work

Dave Brown of The Independent at work

Our first report from this weekend’s Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival is a selection of photos by Mika Schick showing several of the cartoonists starting out on the Saturday morning.

Chichi Parish starts with a border ...

Chichi Parish begins with a border …

Rupert Besley starts from the corner

While Rupert Besley starts from the corner

Nice day for caricatures. Jonathan Cusick (front) and Tim Leatherbarrow in action

Nice day for caricatures. Jonathan Cusick (front) and Tim Leatherbarrow in action

You can rely on The Surreal McCoy for an interesting angle on things

You can rely on The Surreal McCoy for an interesting angle on things

Bill Stott gets his board covered in no time at all

Bill Stott gets his board covered in no time at all

We’ll have more pictures and words from Shrewsbury this week.

The Big Boards from Shrewsbury Cartoon 2013

April 24, 2013 in Events, General, News

The huge drawings made in the town Square in Shrewsbury on Saturday 20th April at the tenth edition of the cartoon festival.

The huge drawings made in the town Square in Shrewsbury on Saturday 20th April at the tenth edition of the cartoon festival.


Shrewsbury Cartoon 2013 – report

April 22, 2013 in Events, General, News

Cartoonists_at_Shrewsbury_Cartoon_Festival_2013 @ procartoonists.org

Pete Dredge and Noel Ford cooperate in the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 © Mika Schick @ procartoonists.org

A small selection of photographs from the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013.

Alex Matthews at Shrewsbury Cartoon 2013 @procartoonists.org

Cartoonist Alex Matthews concentrates on his Big Board at Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 © Geoff Ward @procartoonists.org

 

John_Landers at Shrewsbury_Cartoon_2013 © Geoff Ward @ procartoonists.org

John Landers - coping just fine with an eight foot by six foot canvas at Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 © Geoff Ward @ procartoonists.org

 

Cathy Simpson_Draws_at_Shrewsbury_Cartoon_2013_©_Mika_Schick @ procartoonists

Cathy Simpson gets down to detail on a tablecloth during a function at Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 © Mika Schick @ procartoonists.org

There will a longer post with details of the artwork made over the weekend coming soon.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013

April 20, 2013 in Comment, General, News

You will be able to follow some of the events at the festival  by following the stream below.

The members of the UK Professional Cartoonists at the tenth edition of the festival.


 

 

 

Shropshire Live talks Shrewsbury

April 3, 2013 in Events, News

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival by Wilbur Dawbarn

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival © Wilbur Dawbarn @ Procartoonists.org

The website Shropshirelive.com has a detailed preview of the 10th Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival, which takes place this month (19-21 April).

The piece gives another outing to this fine cartoon of The Square in Shrewsbury during the cartoon festival by Procartoonists.org member Wilbur Dawbarn, which originally appeared in The Oldie magazine.

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 exhibition opening

March 28, 2013 in Events, General, News

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 Poster @ procartoonists.org

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival 2013 @ procartoonists.org

The festival exhibition opens from Tuesday (2 April) at The Market Hall Gallery in the heart of Shrewsbury. The live weekend, as you can see above, is the weekend of 19-21 April.