Rog Bowles caricatures the public at the Southport Mini Cartoon Festival
Paul Hardman reports on the first Southport Mini Cartoon Festival, which took place on the August bank holiday weekend and was arranged at the very last moment, with little or no budget or publicity
I have for many years thought that my now-hometown of Southport in the North West of England would be an ideal location for a cartoon festival.
I was approached by Brendan Riley, a comedian and friend, and he put me in contact with Tony Wynne, our local arts project manager, who had been asked by the council to put on the Southport Festival of Art as part of an event to promote a regeneration funding bid.
Tony wanted to know if I could come up with something at very short notice and with a very limited budget. My response was to call on some of my old friends and a tried-and-tested formula. A hasty budget and plan was arrived at and it was decided to have a big-board event in the centre of town.
Pete Dredge draws a big board cartoon. You can see Bill Stott and Rich Skipworth hard at work too
I was delighted when Noel Ford, Bill Stott, Pete Dredge and Rich Skipworth immediately jumped at the chance to come up and draw a big board here in Southport. I then asked Rog Bowles and Tim Leatherbarrow to assist with the arduous task of caricaturing the public.
The two-day event proved to be a success and the lads delighted the crowds, who stopped in their hundreds to enjoy the skill on show. Bill, Peter, Noel and Rich produced eight magnificent boards, which were all on display by the second day.
There was also an impromptu gallery of A3 gag cartoons, which hung alongside brief biographies of the cartoonists.
Sunny weather ensured a great turnout for the Southport Mini Cartoon Festival
The weather was very kind to us and the visual impact in the town centre was nothing short of spectacular. Far more successful than I could ever have hoped for and I know each of the team was delighted with their stay.
This is hopefully a foot in the door and the beginning of a regular event for our cartoonists’ community. Here’s to the next successful year.
Many thanks to Paul and we echo that last thought.
Many were involved in the live cartooning event last year, which was part of a larger festival celebrating the centenary of Marcel Duchamp’s visit to Herne Bay. This year’s stand-alone cartooning event retains that art/surrealism link and, like last year’s, is organised by the PCO’s own Nathan Ariss along with the Beach Creative team. The event is supported by Arts Council England.
Bob Moran has an exhibition of cartoons drawn for the Telegraph in his hometown of Petersfield, Hampshire (details above). “This exhibition is generating a lot of hype,” he says on Twitter, “with local people describing it as ‘happening’ and ‘something to do’.”
The exhibition was put together by the the curator Camilla Ellingsen Webster with artist Miriam Elia and cartoonist Jeremy Banx, with the aim of showing the importance of the “appropriation” of images made by others in art and satire.
As well as cartoons, this exhibition will feature projections, photographs, prints and collage that use or pastiche other works of art, characters and logos.
The use of other works – though it has long been a tool in art – can be a controversial issue, particularly as those works are often copyrighted. The exhibition has already stirred up debate within in the PCO, with some members refusing to take part.
The gallery says: “The pieces in this exhibition play with other people’s ideas and pre-existing works to showcase a selection of contemporary appropriation in art that is often mischievous, somewhat humorous, and often unsettling. It plays with what the viewer might be comfortable with and questions ideas of authorship and originality.”
“We believe this is crucial for the future of appropriative art and satire, and although the law has been delayed, we are putting on this exhibition to celebrate artists, satirists and cartoonists who are paving the way,” say the organisers.
Pastiche, Parody and Piracy: Exploring Different Approaches in Contemporary Art Appropriation is at The Cob Gallery, London NW1 from 20 June – 5 July. For more, email email@example.com or call 020-7209 9110
Whilst it might sound uncomfortably like a medical examination, there’s interesting stuff coming out of The Oldie right now. Quite a bit of bile. The departure of the multi-faceted, sometimes contradictory Richard Ingrams will be a huge loss, not only to The Oldie, but to gag cartooning in the UK.
The Oldie’s predicament reminds me of the beginning of the end for Punch, a magazine strong on cartoons and humour but which never made a profit in its 500-year existence, unlike The Oldie which has loads of readers and does make a profit.
The similarity lies with “management”. Alan Coren, probably one of the best Punch editors, fell out with those who bought the mag and got sacked. He was locked out of his office, in fact.
After a few false starts, a new bought-in editor was presented to a restaurant full of cartoonists in thatLondon. He foolishly delayed them from getting at the free food and drink by climbing on to a rostrum to tell all hands about his vision for the new Punch. I seem to remember the sixth-form market being mentioned. Honest!
The new ed was apparently a very good manager. Quite soon after his appointment, which was made despite the existence of excellent candidates already on board, Punch ceased to be.
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.
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