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Politics and plebs at awards bash

December 6, 2013 in Events, News

Andrew Mitchell presents Steve Bell with the Political Cartoon of the Year award. Photo © Kasia Kowalska

Andrew Mitchell MP presents Steve Bell with the cartoon of the year award. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

Kasia Kowalska writes:

The annual Political Cartoon of the Year Awards, hosted by the Ellwood Atfield Gallery, in Smith Square, Westminster, were full to the brim with guests and cartoonists alike.

You didn’t have to move far to rub shoulders with the elite of political cartooning in Britain today – most of the nominees, from Christian Adams to Ingram Pinn, Bob Moran to Martin Rowson, were there.

In his welcoming speech, Dr Tim Benson of the Political Cartoon Society, thanked the organisers and said: “We do not lead the world in many things, but we certainly have always led the world with regard to political cartoons.”

Following the introduction of online voting for the Political Cartoon of the Year for the first time, he hinted that, in the future, members of the public would also be able to vote for the Political Cartoonist of the Year.

This year’s awards were presented by the Rt. Hon Andrew Mitchell MP, the former Chief Whip, who has found himself at the sharp end of many a cartoonist’s pen over the past year, during the Plebgate scandal. In spite of this, he admitted that he could not resist accepting the invitation, as he is an enthusiastic collector of political cartoons.

He did not resist giving the gathered cartoonists a taste of their own medicine by reflecting on the unique relationship between politicians and cartoonists as he recalled a recent interview by the head of the Israeli intelligence service who said “he didn’t like politicians because they tended to leave their wounded on the battlefield”.

He added: “It struck me that that’s basically what politicians may do … and then cartoonists come along and finish them off.” He stressed that it is, nonetheless, an enduring relationship.

Steve Bell Margaret Thatcher cartoon

Political Cartoon of the Year © Steve Bell @ Procartoonists.org

Steve Bell was announced the winner of the coveted Gillray Cup for Political Cartoon of the Year for his portrayal of Margaret Thatcher, above, with Andy Davey as the runner up. Morten Morland was named 2013 Political Cartoonist of the Year.

Upon accepting the award from Mr Mitchell, Steve Bell said: “it’s a great honour to get the Gillray goblet, it’s the one to win, that’s for sure.”

Andy Davey accepts his award, flanked by Andrew Mitchell and Tim Benson

Andy Davey accepts his award, flanked by Andrew Mitchell and Tim Benson. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The acceptance speech by Andy Davey, who was recently let go in cuts at The Sun, was greeted with a cheer when he addressed the room by saying: “Either you lot are masters of paradox and satire or you’re a bunch of plebs.”

Morten Morland said that he was “as surprised as everyone else and very glad to win the Low Trophy”.

Political Cartoonist of the Year Morten Morland, with the cartoon collector Geoffrey Buchler

Political Cartoonist of the Year Morten Morland, with the cartoon collector Geoffrey Buchler. Photo © Kasia Kowalska @ Procartoonists.org

The exhibition of the political cartoons will run at the Ellwood Atfield Gallery until 23 December.

Many thanks to Kasia for the report and photographs. You can follow Kasia on Twitter: @katyrosesmith

Interview: Dave Brown of the Independent

December 3, 2013 in Events, General, News

Fighting-Portsmouth_©_Dave_Brown_@_procartoonists.org

© Dave Brown @ Procartoonists.org

Kasia Kowalska reports:

Sitting across the table from me in The Betjeman Arms in St. Pancras, nursing a pint, is the four-time winner of the Political Cartoon of the Year award, The Independent’s Dave Brown.

He will be defending his title against many other cartoonists this evening.

His Rogues’ Gallery cartoon on the Leveson enquiry, The Last, Last, Last Chance Saloon, won the award in 2012, and this year he’s chosen The Fighting Portsmouth, a cartoon on the recent BAE shipyard closure, for his entry. How did he decide on that particular cartoon?

“I think it’s quite difficult picking a cartoon. The trouble with being a political cartoonist is that a lot of what you do is so ephemeral. A few months removed from the story, which may have faded in people’s memory, a lot of cartoons don’t mean very much. One reason why I picked The Fighting Portsmouth was that it’s still current. You’re also always more pleased with what you’ve done most recently. It’s one of the Rogues’ Gallery cartoons so it has an added recognition factor: it’s based on Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, which is, supposedly, the nation’s most-loved painting.”

Brown made his mark as the creator of Rogues’ Gallery, which has, since 2003, appeared on the pages of the Saturday edition of The Independent.

How did he come up with the idea of giving classic paintings a satirical edge?

“Anything that looks familiar, but which you can turn into something unfamiliar and strange, is a gift – all grist to the mill. It’s a reference point to start with and it’s fun for me. I get to play at being Francis Bacon one week and Caravaggio the next. It’s a political cartoon with its own brand. It has a life of its own.”

A political cartoonist’s job is to hold up a mirror to the powerful. Seeing that he is one of the leading political cartoonists in the country, has he become part of the establishment he is supposed to lampoon?

“I hope not,” he says, “I sit at home wearing old jeans and a black T-shirt covered in Indian ink most days, scratching away at a piece of paper. If that’s the establishment, it doesn’t feel much like it. Cartooning tends to be anti-establishment. To an extent you are a licensed jester but you are never quite on the inside.”

According to Brown, cartoons can’t change the world, though it might be their intention. The most they might do is influence people who are already leaning towards one’s point of view. Upon reflection, however, he concedes that cartoonists can be a small part of shaping the way people think. Does he have a favourite among his own cartoons that might have done that?

Hillsborough_cover_up_©_Dave_Brown_@_procartoonists.org

© Dave Brown @ Procartoonists.org

“There was one I did last year when the Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report came out. There were a lot of pictures of Thatcher walking around Hillsborough with the police a few days after the tragedy, supposedly being briefed on what had happened – which, of course, we now know was a fiction – and who was very happy to swallow it all and blame the Liverpool fans.

“I did a cartoon of Thatcher down by the corner of the pitch, lifting it up like a carpet as the police swept bodies underneath. I got a lot of favourable responses from people in Liverpool.

“I was worried about offending the families of the Hillsborough fans; they’d gone through a lot. I don’t usually worry about offending people very much; it’s sort of the job to offend. However, a lot of people rang up who liked the cartoon. One guy said, ‘Not many people read The Independent on Merseyside but they’re selling loads of copies today ’cause everyone’s been talking about your cartoon.’ That makes you feel you’ve done your job properly.”

Ed adds: Thanks to Kasia for writing and sharing this content which you can also read at The Independent.

Cartoon Cafe moves to the seaside

January 11, 2012 in Comment

Bloghorn - Cartoon cafe at Eastbourne

Eastbourne will be much more bracing when a gallery of salty and saucy imagery opens its doors this June. 

Tim Benson, who previously ran the Bloomsbury-based Political Cartoon Gallery, will reopen the gallery in premises in the East Sussex town this summer.

Dr Benson plans to host regular exhibitions of cartoon art as well as a cafe. Plans are afoot for an opening exhibition by a leading British cartoonist and the publication of a full colour anthology of his work. 

Bloghorn - Cartoon Cafe at Eastbourne

The cafe will also host a mural made by leading cartoonists carrying a suitable seaside theme and there will be a permanent exhibition of some iconic cartoons from the 20th Century.

More news here when we get it.

Political Cartoonist of the Year

December 8, 2010 in Events, General, News

While on the theme of awards, congratulations to PCO member Martin Rowson who won the annual Political Cartoon Society’s Cartoonist of the Year award on Monday. You can explore Martin’s work at The Guardian, Tribune and The Morning Star.

The economic recovery is here © Martin Rowson Cartoon

The economic recovery is here Jan 2010 © Martin Rowson Cartoon

Dave Brown of the Independent won the prize for the individual drawing of the year.