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by Royston

Laughter rings out at Bell exhibition

May 26, 2011 in Events

Bell Epoque promoOxygen was in short supply at the Cartoon Museum last night, such were the numbers that turned up for the opening of the latest exhibition, Bell Époque, but it didn’t stop people laughing.

It’s hardly surprising that you would hear snorts of laughter, as this is a show celebrating more than 30 years of the cartoons of Steve Bell.

The Big Man stepped up on to the seating area plinth-type thing – specially reinforced, the chairman of the Cartoon Museum, Oliver Preston, joked – to make a speech.

He graciously attributed his success to a range of cartoonists – from Ronald Searle to Leo Baxendale, Wally “Trog” Fawkes to Kipper Williams – not forgetting to mention his wife, and the ideas he gets when the couple shout angrily at the radio together, berating those political upstarts who dare to lead us.

Steve Bell makes a speech
Gracious: Steve Bell makes his speech Photo by Simon Ellinas

Bell is one of the leading political cartoonists of our age, but it was interesting to see through this exhibition that it took him a while to arrive at his famous depictions of leading villains such as Major and Blair. One pre-Guardian image of Thatcher, from Time Out, is almost complimentary.

Also on show are notebooks, early strips from kids’ comics, a new cartoon featuring Monsieur L’Artiste as a brothel voyeur watching Thatcher et al prostitute themselves, and a plank carved into the image of John Major. Major Plank, of course.

What else can we say about this exhibition, other than, Go see! It’s the blockbuster cartoon exhibition of the year and runs until July 24. More details at the Cartoon Museum website.

In the meantime here is an article about the show by Steve Bell, with accompanying video piece:

”You must discover the character behind the face”

Plus a Bell Époque picture gallery

Rogues and Epoques

May 12, 2011 in Events, News

Two prominent political cartoonists have exhibitions opening in London in the next couple of weeks. On Wednesday 25 May, Bell Époque, featuring the cartoons of Steve Bell opens at the Cartoon Museum. The exhibition, which celebrates 30 years of Guardian cartoonist Steve’s work runs until 24 July.

Not to be outdone, on Monday 30 May Rogues’ Gallery, opens at Westminster Reference Library. Featuring the classical art parodies of the Independent‘s Dave Brown the exhibition runs until 18 June. Dave will also be giving an illustrated talk, titled ‘Mimicking the Masters’ on Tuesday 7 June, 7pm. To book a free place, email or phone 020 7641 5250.

Bell Époque, Cartoon Gallery, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH, 25 May to 24 July. For opening times and admission prices, go to

Rogues Gallery, Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s Street, London WC2H 7HP, 30 May to 18 June.  Free entry. Opening hours: Monday – Friday 10am to 8pm, Saturday 10am to 5pm.