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‘Women In History’ Cartoon Exhibition

February 22, 2019 in Events, General, News

Poster cartoon by © The Surreal MCoy

The PCO is putting on an exhibition in collaboration with Idea Store at Canary Wharf to tie in with Women’s History Month. ‘Women In History’ is an exhibition of cartoons and caricatures based loosely around the theme and also looking more widely at issues affecting women.

Our patron Sandi Toksvig writes:

“Cave paintings were really the first cartoons. The latest analysis of them suggest they were done by women. Perfect! Let’s celebrate Women’s History month with cartoons done by female artists following in the footsteps of the very first art.”

Cartoon by © Sarah Boyce

The show has been curated by PCO committee members The Surreal McCoy and Sarah Boyce (office admin by Glenda Marshall).

Sarah writes:

“We are delighted that Idea Store has given us this space to showcase the work of women cartoonists. It’s been a tough job narrowing down the long list to those that will be on display. We wanted to get a broad range of voices and styles in the exhibition and make sure as many women cartoonists as possible got a chance to participate. Hopefully visitors will enjoy the talent, diversity and humour on display.”

‘Victoria Victorious’ by © Cathy Simpson

Women’s History Month started in schools in California in 1978 to enhance understanding of all women’s contributions to history and society. It centres around International Women’s Day, originally celebrated in 1911 and now a fixture on 8th March. Women’s History Month is now an annual declared month in the UK, USA, Australia and Canada.

Illustration by © Kate Charlesworth

The show has contributions from 20 cartoonists including international submissions from Egypt, Greece and New Zealand.

Isadora Duncan by Athens based cartoonist © Maria Tzaboura 

Those taking part are:

Afraa Alyousef, Sally Artz, Ros Asquith, Sarah Boyce, Kate Charlesworth, Maddie Dai, Tat Effby, Jacky Fleming, Grizelda, Rebecca Hendin, KJ Lamb, Rasha Mahdi, Lorna Miller, Lou McKeever, Danny Noble, Chichi Parish, Martha Richler, Cathy Simpson, The Surreal McCoy and Maria Tzaboura.

Malala Yousafzai with her father by © Rebecca Hendin

The exhibition runs throughout March at:

Idea Store Canary Wharf, Churchill Place, London, E14 5RB.

We’ll be showing many more of the cartoons and drawings from the show on our social media platforms over the next few weeks.

All artwork on display will be available for purchase with 10% of the sales going to Solace Women’s Aid

Cartoon by © Maddie Dai

We’re hoping to put on more exhibitions and events in partnership with Idea Store later in the year.

Tomi Ungerer – ‘Expect the unexpected’

February 13, 2019 in Comment, General, News

Glenn Marshall writes:

I’m easily influenced by all sorts of things around me, as Tomi Ungerer said ‘I’ve always been a sponge, just absorbing whatever I see, whether it’s in daily life or in art’, and Ungerer, who sadly died last week, was particularly inspiring and influencial to me. I love his varied, playful and boundary-pushing work. He was often subversive and outspoken, and he saw himself very much as a satirist. This is a great quote taken from the Tomi Ungerer official website:

‘Satire is the outlet for my revulsion towards a society turned into a pigsty by materialism, consumerism, greed and arrogance. I have particularly aimed my pen at the bourgeoisie and its hypocrisy. I am a satirist to this day though more so in the medium of writing, collage and sculpture. I have been reproached for being obscene in my depictions, but what can I do, society is obscene and my drawings reflect this. And without mercy!’

I also love how he could turn his hand to many disciplines, including painting, collage, print-making, cartoons, graphic design and sculpture, often with a skewed and rebellious humour.

Cover and internal illustration ‘The Party’ 1966 © Tomi Ungerer

Over the years he produced over 140 books. The Tomi Ungerer Museum which opened in 2007 in Strasbourg, his town of birth, has around 11,000 pieces of his work (I’m not even up to treble figures yet!)

‘Business’ brush painting © Tomi Ungerer

I particularly liked the brisk drawings he did with huge paintbrushes and with very limited strokes; you can see him in action in the fantastic 2007 biographical documentary ‘Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story’. The title is lifted from his 1983 illustrated book about his years in Canada. Many of his drawings are wonderfully animated into life in the film too. It’s well worth seeking out. Trailer here

POTTED BIO:

He was born in 1931 in Strasbourg, growing up under the German occupation of Alsace during World War II which greatly affected him. In a very recent interview with The Comics Journal he is quoted as saying: “I was brought up and educated with hate, hatred of the neighbours, hatred of the Germans, hatred of the Catholics. It was nothing but hate, hate, hate.”

Cover for one of his most popular early children’s books ‘TheThree Robbers’ 1961, © Tomi Ungerer

After traveling around Europe he moved to New York with just $60 in his pocket and a case crammed with artwork and manuscripts. He’d always been inspired by Saul Steinberg and other artists in The New Yorker so it seemed natural for hm to move there. He soon picked up illustration and advertising work for publications including the New York Times, Life magazine, The Village Voice and Harper’s Bazaar and started getting his children’s books published.

‘Eat’ poster, 1967.                                                ‘Black Power/White Power’ poster, 1967
 © Tomi Ungerer.                                                © Tomi Ungerer

In the late ’60s he became more political, making posters against the Vietnam War and racial segregation. He believed he was being watched by the FBI for his political views and indeed was taken away and interrogated after a trip to China.

It was at this time he started publishing (very) adult illustrations in his books such as ‘Fornicon’ (don’t look them up on a work computer!). This lead to a backlash particularly as he was mostly known for his writing of children’s books.

For these reasons much of his work became blacklisted with many of his books removed from libraries. In 1970 he escaped to Nova Scotia before moving to Co.Cork in Ireland with his third wife Yvonne Wright in 1976 where he settled until he died aged 87.

The above three drawings are from the book ‘The Underground Sketchbook’ 1964, © Tomi Ungerer

There are two big exhibitions opening in Paris this spring that he’d been working towards. I certainly plan doing a Eurostar mini-pilgrimage to those. I will add the exhibition details when they are available.

To end here’s a clip of Ungerer that was posted on the Tomi Unger website which includes his thoughts on death (Video by Brad Bernstein & Rick Cikowski)

Our commiserations to Tomi’s family and friends.

NB: I’m indebted to the fine obituaries in The Irish Times and The New York Times that I mined for biographical detail. There is also a good interview with Ungerer on Design Boom

 

Hats off to JR

February 10, 2019 in Comment, General

Caricature by © Rupert Besley

Rupert Besley writes:

…John Ruskin, that is. It’s his 200th birthday in February and there are events lined up to mark the occasion. One such is Chris Beetles’ forthcoming exhibition ‘Ruskin’s Artists’  (13 Feb-2 Mar), celebrating the work of those he cherished.

Helen Allingham ‘A Devonshire Cottage’ (from © Chris Beetles Gallery catalogue)

A shame for me I don’t have a spare £6.5k kicking around (so far, searches of jacket linings and sofa backs have brought in only one parking ticket and two licorice imps). With that kind of money, I’d be straight on to Beetles to buy up one of those Helen Allingham watercolours.

Ruskin was a polymath of the first order. It would take more than a page to do justice to the full range of his accomplishments. No mean artist himself, he achieved a great deal more as art critic than any since. He was hugely important in championing the genius of Turner and he played a big part in the 20,000 artworks of the Turner Bequest being saved for the nation. He greatly influenced the Pre-Raphaelites and was the inspiration behind the Arts & Crafts Movement that followed on (Wm Morris, CR Ashbee, Walter Crane etc, whose fine creations currently star in the BBC series on Fri nights).

Wasn’t it Brian Sewell who was given to making disparaging remarks about ‘mere cartoons’? This, certainly, is a BS quote: ‘there has never been a first-rank woman artist. Only men are capable of aesthetic greatness.’Refreshing, then, to see (as the Beetles Gallery blurb points out) that, well over a century back, Ruskin was equally supportive of female and male contemporary artists and that he considered Tenniel cartoons to contain ‘as high qualities as it is possible to find in modern art.’

Ruskin was much mocked in his time and repeatedly since. Leaving aside as less important his poor form in the marital bed, Ruskin the thinker and writer was way ahead of his time. Gandhi claimed Ruskin as a major influence, as had Tolstoy and the founders of the Labour Party. Outraged by the downsides of industrialisation, capitalism and urbanisation in full swing around him (ugliness, pollution, disconnect from nature and, above all, exploitation of and deterioration in quality of life for the working classes), Ruskin positively exploded with solutions, all of them still attractive today. Much of what he proposed had to await the arrival of the welfare state, but institutions that owed much to his thinking, such as the National Trust and the National Parks movement, came about in his lifetime or soon after. Other concepts that he worked on, like the greenhouse-effect and fractal geometry in nature, had to wait their time, some century and a half later.

Visionary, conservationist and social revolutionary, Ruskin put his ideas into practice where he could. Believing in the power of art and natural beauty to transform lives and restore human dignity, Ruskin taught a generation to see things differently. And he took on establishment snobberies that allowed intellectuals to look down on manual work. As Oxford’s first Professor of Fine Art, in 1874-5 he got undergraduates – including the young Oscar Wilde – to work on road-mending in N Oxford as a way to teach them the virtues of physical labour.

Ruskin’s high-minded aims in art rather outshine the me-me-me, self-publicising commercialism of so many artists fêted today. JR is one to remember, I reckon.

 

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