Many Procartoonists.org members contributed to a new exhibition called The Art of Drawing, at Stranraer Museum, after the organisers put out an urgent call to professional cartoonists to submit artwork, in order to show schoolchildren that a love of drawing can turn into a career. It runs until 7 June.
Roger Penwill narrates the Melodrawma at Shrewsbury 2014. Photo by Kasia Kowalska
Roger Penwill reflects on more than a decade as chairman of the Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival as he hands over the reins:
I first approached the town of Shrewsbury with the idea of staging an annual cartoon festival in 2002. Back then very few people knew what a cartoon festival was, including the local council.
The idea gradually took root and the Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival began in 2004. I had no idea that it would still be going strong after 11 years, I didn’t expect it to last more than two. It is the UK’s longest running annual cartoon festival by far and is currently the only one of its kind in the country. Hopefully it will still be with us for many years into the future.
Each year we festival organisers have enticed top cartoonists from our country and around the world to Shrewsbury in April. Numerous talks and workshops have been given over the “Cartoonists Live!” weekends. Nearly 50 exhibitions of cartoons have been shown, often giving the public opportunities to buy this collectable art form.
Roger Penwill drawn at Shrewsbury 2014 by Matt Buck
Exhibitions of cartoons from the UK, Australia, France, Greece, Germany, Holland, the US and elsewhere have been staged. Also each year, drawing live, have been many of the country’s best caricaturists. The huge Big Board cartoons were a world’s first for the festival.
What makes cartooning appealing to all ages is its emphasis on fun. The festival is defined by its humour, from its often bemused mascot Barry the Shrew (Shrew … Barry – geddit?) to the chaotic Melodrawma comic strip, which is drawn to a live narration, musical accompaniment and sound effects.
The festival may well have inspired many who have visited it to take up pen and brush. We would like to think so. It certainly was the inspiration for the birth of the Professional Cartoonists Organisation, with which it is closely linked.
The festival has been well-supported by the Shropshire Council from the start, but this year it could not continue with its funding because of cutbacks. The festival is therefore adapting to a self-funded future, which it is confident it can do.
Detail from this year’s Big Boards, photographed by The Surreal McCoy. Clockwise from top left: Bill Stott, Chichi Parish, Dave Brown, Rupert Besley, Rich Skipworth and Royston Robertson
After 11 years in charge, I felt this was time for a fresh hand on the tiller so I’ve decided to remove mine. Happily I have been able to hand over the chairmanship of the organising team to Rich Skipworth.
Apart from being a splendid cartoonist himself, Rich is a proven of organiser of cartooning events. I am sure he’ll do a grand job.
So, another enjoyable and popular festival has been and gone (but the exhibitions are still open) and the serious planning for next year gathers pace …
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
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.
Famous cartoon characters from all over the world have gone bald, in an initiative in Brazil designed to send out the message that a child with cancer deserves to be seen just like any other child: Bald Cartoons.
This year is both the 15th anniversary of the Scottish Cartoon Art Studio and of political devolution in Scotland. We’ve organised a new touring exhibition entitled The Auld Acquaintance, taking our cue from Rabbie Burns’ Auld Lang Syne, sung whenever folk leave one chapter of their life behind and start another.
Our call for contributions attracted over 350 caricatures, editorial cartoons and strips by artists from around the world responding to the same question that will be put to Scots in a referendum this September: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”
Having whittled the pile down to a workable number, we’ve selected a balanced cross-section of opinion that reflects healthy scepticism as well as enthusiastic support for independence. There will be a number of showings around Europe in the year ahead. The first is taking place in Saint-Just-le-Martel, France’s own little capital du dessins.
Grasp the thistle! Steve Bright’s view
Steve Bell’s take on the subject
My colleague Tommy Sommerville and I travelled to the Espace Loup for a vernissage on 10 April. We found the work displayed sequentially according to its origin: Catalonia, Scotland, the rest of the UK, Québec and the wider world, with the studio team’s own contributions in the middle of the space.
Also present and correct was the perennial mascot of Saint-Just and its annual Salon International, the Limousin cow.
The Auld Acquaintance, at Espace Loup, Centre International de la Caricature, du Dessin de Presse et d’Humour, Saint-Just-le-Martel, will run until 14 August. There will be further showings around Europe to be announced in the coming months.
Cartoonists and alcohol are often linked, and now one of the UK’s best known political cartoonists, Gerald Scarfe, has a bar named after him at the Rosewood Hotel in Holborn, London. The Spectator has more and the Telegraph has a video in which the cartoonist talks about the drawings on the walls.
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