Government minister’s whitewash on childrens asylum centre.

Cartoon from The i by © Ben Jennings

PCO Chair Clive Goddard writes:

Earlier this month the Immigration minister Robert Jenrick ordered the overpainting of cartoon murals in two reception centres for the children of asylum seekers. This mean-spirited, pettiness rightly earned him a huge amount of public criticism from across the political spectrum. It was even too much for foghorn based humanoid, Nigel Farage to stomach. And having crossed into the realm of cartooning it also attracted the attention of the PCO.

Cartoonist for the Metro and PCO member Guy Venables approached one of the centres offering to repaint new murals for free and was quickly joined by numerous other cartoonists wanting to help. Unfortunately, but inevitably, Guy was given a firm “Thank you but no” from the centre itself and, as it is run by Jenrick, there’s little hope of doing anything without the help of the staff, who would be risking their jobs. It appears you can’t just turn up at a government run detention centre with pens and paint and brushes and do something nice for kids.

However, the idea had gained a lot of support, publicity and momentum; Guy’s story had been picked up by The Independent and he had been interviewed by James O’Brien on LBC. The Wall Street Journal had contacted the PCO for comment. Campaigner, Rima Amin had begun collaborating with us through her online petition here. to save the murals which has already reached over 90,000 signatures (Instagram campaign account @cartoonsnotcruelty. The The Cartoon Museum is also getting involved. Campaign group 38 Degrees had offered to help us with crowd-funding but … we had hit a dead-end so we needed to think of something else.


Cartoon from The Guardian by © Henny Beaumont

The idea to create a children’s colouring book came from Amy Amani, the PCO’s treasurer, and has quickly been taken up as a good plan B. The book would be given free to the kids while other copies could be sold to raise funds. We’ll also need to supply some crayons, of course, so we’re looking for help sourcing those.

An uncoloured in cartoon by © Guy Venables

We’re asking the membership and other artists to donate something suitable. (A4 black line drawing at 300dpi jpeg). The drawings should, of course, be clearly drawn so that areas can be coloured in and ideally relate to the theme of ‘Life in Britain’ or ‘Welcome to Britain’. Anything to do with British life, history, culture, wildlife, famous people, places etc.
Think of it as an antidote to cartoonishly evil men in suits obliterating art to appeal to the public’s baser instincts.

Though the book will include an explanation of its origins, the drawings themselves should be child-friendly and non-political. It’s for vulnerable kids after all. And it’s the least we can do.

A temporarily coloured in cartoon by © Glenn Marshall


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