Tales from Herne Bay
Photographer Kasia Kowalska writes:
It was 30 years ago that Ralph Steadmancame to give a talk on cartoon drawing and political satire at The University of Kent.
At that time the British Cartoon Archive was still a fledgling. After the talk, Ralph gave a practical presentation on political caricatures by drawing members of the audience.
A young student Karol Steele was in the audience that day. She dearly wished to speak to Steadman but in spite of her friends’ encouragement, she hid in the back paralysed by most crippling shyness. She always regretted it bitterly.
And so passed 30 years and the much admired artist was due to pay a visit to Herne Bay during the Duchamp Festival. Karol was determined not to let the opportunity pass her for the second time!
When we spoke she reflected that “most of the truly embarrassing things that can happen to a person already have happened” to her so there was nothing left but to pluck up the courage and make amends for her shyness of her student days.
Having heard this story early in the day and realising we were both alumni of the same university, I was keen to help her and promised to look out for her and let her know when Ralph Steadman would arrive at the Bandstand. And so it came to pass that I was lucky enough to find her in the buzzing crowd and point her in the direction of the artist.
She found him a most generous and obliging man who listened to her story with avid interest and who, without hesitation, agreed to draw a picture for her.
“30 years of regret wiped out in 10 minutes!” said Karol clutching a splendid drawing of herself and her husband. Even the family dog was immortalised and included in the artwork.
I believe Karol got over her shyness. She will be starring in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest at The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury in September.
Ed adds: Thanks to Kasia for the news, the photograph and for a heart-warming story to end the week. Good luck to Karol for her upcoming show.