PCOer Alex Noel-Watson reports on last year’s version of one of the drawing things we have to look forward to in 2009:
Deep in the heart of the French countryside of the Limousin, in the department of Haute Vienne where characteristic tan-coloured cattle roam the lush meadows, nestles the village of Saint-Just-Le-Martel, near Limoges.
Saint-Just-Le-Martel could be described as the unofficial world capital of cartoons, thanks to the vision and energy of its mayor, Gérard Vandenbroucke, who 26 years ago started the annual Salon International de la Caricature, du Dessin de Presse et d’Humour.
The Salon runs for ten days at the end of September and beginning of October, and approximately 200 cartoonists converge upon the village from all over the world, 100 for the first weekend and the remainder for the second. A small number of cartoonists stays for the whole ten days. All the cartoonists who attend the Salon are happily billeted with local families.
The Salon is the biggest exhibition of cartoons in Europe, probably the world. The vast main exhibition, displaying cartoons from every imaginable country, is supplemented throughout the Salon site and beyond (in Limoges) by numerous others.
This year these included the historic works of Daumier, a presentation revealing the astonishing versatility of the veteran French cartoonist, Roger Mofrey, exhibitions by Brito, Avoine, Tignons, Kerleroux, Cambon, Puig-Rosado and others; caricatures by Nalair, a large display of caricatures by Sterpone, Moine and others in the main area; the Cartooning for Peace exhibition, conceived by Plantu and already shown at the United Nations in New York and around the world, most recently in Jerusalem, Hollon, Bethlehem and Ramallah; cartoons from Québec, Cuba, Turkey, Portugal and Germany.
Saint-Just, however, is not resting on its laurels. For a long time Gérard Vandenbroucke has nursed the ambition to build a permanent world centre of cartoons. This dream is nearing fruition. Two years ago, the first symbolic bricks were laid, and Gérard told me that construction will begin at the end of this year.
“There will be 18 months of building works and the centre will be officially opened in 2010,” he said.