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Knokke Heist 2017/8 cartoon festival

June 27, 2019 in Events, General

Des Buckley writes:

“It’s all doves with laurels flying over a tank.CCGB doyenLes Lilley.

The Knokke-Heist Cartoon Festival sets up camp on a Belgium beach promenade each Summer. On display are two major exhibitions including their International Competition. Knokke & Heist are conjoined seaside towns on the sandy channel coast. In recent years Ive dropped by their shiny plastic tent to dawdle & gawp. Last year, perhaps unsurprisingly no Union Jacks adorned the flag poles outside. Indeed in the last two years only two UK Cartoons were on show, both from the same artist. I’m genuinely unsure whether this reflects recent spats with FECO, indifference or nothing in particular. Alas I’ll miss this years 58th show as my annual road trip falls after it closes. A couple of visits to Cartoon Fest does not a critic make, I’m no Brian Sewell, though I do have a red face & talk bollocks…

The Festival features 2 x shows. A selection of Belgian editorial cartoons & the International Gouden Hoed’ (Golden HatCartoon Exhibition. Facsimiles of the cartoons are interned within the fabric of plastic panels in the marquee.

1. Belgian Cartoon Exhibition

The Belgium press cartoons are helpfully translated into English, French & Flemish. Our European pals across the Channel share our liberal sensibilities & disdain for authority. In the wake of ‘Charlie Hebdo’ & outrages in Brussels Belgian Cartoonists seem less ‘sensitive’ in their representations of terrorism, terrorists & sexual politics. I’m aware there are fault lines between Belgium’s French & Walloon populations but lacked the nous to spot evidence of this in this display. The Politico-Social Cartoons were lively & vibrant. The impudent pocket cartoons almost poke you in the eye. Whilst I can’t be sure, my impression is the cartoonists aren’t entirely on the same page. I found this refreshing & imagine them (perhaps unfairly) as dysfunctional hissing cats. The general direction was ‘look at what those prat politicians are doing’ but, there were a couple taking wicked potshots at demented demonstrators. The sexual quotient was more muted than I anticipated but in the shop there were postcards that would have Donald McGill gagging on his little stick of Blackpool rock.

2. Gouden Hoed’ (Golden Hat) Int. Cartoon Exhibition

Linguistic gymnastics are almost superfluous in the larger International show. Most artwork carries no captions and little text. In attempting to reach out to all, artists opt for high visual impact and political caricature.

Cartoon by © Kanar (Belgium)

We in the West seem to be indulging in bouts of self flagellation & unseemly flirtations with shameless snake-oil salesmen. I like Rich Hall (Melty faced US Comedian) but don’t agree with his tirade against Political Cartoons. Much on display at Knokke-Heist is absolutely glorious. But however gorgeous the artwork or compelling the theme, viewing multiple Donald Trumps somewhat dulls approbation.Some International Contributors whilst happy to take a swipe at his Orangenessmay be transmitting more nuanced messagesabout repression. In the UK our ability to lampoon without fear of grim consequence was hard won.

Cartoon by © Josef Parchal (Spain)

It’s foolish to draw conclusions about a show chosen by panel from global Cartoon submissions. One embarrassing anomaly being the Brazilian cartoon that appeared inthe 2017& 201catalogue! It is remarkable however, that so much content comes from countries that might euphemistically be considered to haveauthoritarian regimes.Whilst Mr Putin was another predictable ‘aunt Sally’ other obvious brigands & despots were noticeable by their absence. My prejudice on this was informed by remarks made at a recent PCO hosted event. The fear of giving offence is not just about personal safety but genuine anxiety about the implications for family members, even if that cartoonist is exiled. Cartoonists elsewhere may live with harsher sanctions than an ugly Twitter-storm.

Cartoon by © Nicola Listes (Croatia)

Visiting this exhibition is a rewarding & enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours. Humour is subjective & was not entirely obligatory. The artworks went from animated squiggles to epilepsy inducing tapestries of colour. There were a sprinkling of earnest graphic statements but most works had humorous intent. Cartoonists from Iran & Turkey were especially numerous with an exquisite variety of work. We all understand that an apparently tossed off doodle can take hours! Some of the carefully crafted Iranian Artwork was Herculean in ambition & execution. I loved the exhibition.

Les Lilley’s quote (above) was made in jest but there is truth in it. Perhaps a lack of embarrassment when illustrating occasionally naive political statements confers gravitas. If a cartoon dares to be serious it may persuade viewers to take cartoons seriously. This could explain why Continental Cartoonists can be afforded respect as artists & why ruthless regimes harass them. Me, I prefer cartoons to be funny too!

Name check: The singular British contributor was Jason McClarnin, top marks to him.

Information

The Knokke-Heist Festival’s event is popular & well resourced. The coastal towns heavily promote it on the web, in their literature & tourist office. Cartoons seems to enjoy a cultural prestige which is absent in the UK. Belgium has surrealism ‘form’ and a fine cartoon legacy from Herge (Tin Tin) through Peyo (Smurfs) to Bob de Groot. For those grumbling about lack of markets, check out the cash prizes & consider entering by December 2019 in time for 2020!

Web: myknokke-heist.be. Address: Strand ter hoogte van het Heldenplein

Exhibition: 29 June – 1 September 2019 

Opening times: 10am to 7pm Entry: Free

Prizes: 1. Gold €10,000 2. Silver €5,000 3. Bronze €1,000.

All photos by © Des Buckley

Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival photo album

May 6, 2019 in Comment, Events, General, News

The ‘Plan B’ Shrewsbury Square. Photo © Tat Effby.

Glenn Marshall & Jonathan Cusick write:

With Storm Hannah due to roll in threatening rain and high winds the marquee company wouldn’t put up the festival’s gazebo roofing. Fear of airborne ‘para-boarding’ cartoonists made the festival organisers hastily arrange a Plan B for Saturday, which involved us decamping to the local Darwin Shopping Centre (every third business in Shrewsbury seems to contain the word Darwin)

A distant Steve Bell in front of a crowded audience. Photo © Jonathan Cusick.

Before that, on Friday evening Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell returned to the festival and spoke to a packed and enthusiastic crowd at the University Centre. Surveying his use of animals throughout his career, he picked out highlights including the penguin from his ‘If’ strip and ended with a few live drawings including his toilet-headed Trump. After twenty minutes of audience questions he signed copies of his latest book. A real treat for cartoon fans and definitely one of the highlights of the festival.

Saturday morning at John Cusick’s cartoon animal drawing workshop using exhibits from the Shrewsbury Museum collection. Photo © Jonathan Cusick.

Zoom Rockman cartoons stripped bare teaching how to draw his Skanky Pigeon character. Photo © Kate Lennard.

There were also well attended indoor talks by The Surreal McCoy and TWO by Clive Goddard (above) nothing to do with folk wanting to get out of the bad weather. Photo © Alison Patrick.

Meanwhile in the basement level of Darwin Shopping Centre dry and warm cartoonists began creating. Here Shrewsbury based cartoonist Tat Effby took to the big boards like a duck to water. Photo © Clive Goddard.

Luke Crump with one of his incredible ‘doodle style’ creations. Photo © Clive Goddard.

The Surreal McCoy hot-footed over from her ‘Wolf of Baghdad’ talk to fit in a board before hot-footing off again to join the ‘festival music ensemble’. Photo © Clive Goddard.

Jeremy Banx and Noel Ford mid-boards. Photo © Tat Effby.

Tim Harries & Rich Skipworth colouring in. Photos © Tat Effby.

John Landers’ snakes on a plain surface. Photo © Clive Goddard. 

Pete Dredge caricaturing Pa Marshall plus Jonathan Cusick really going with the animal theme. Photo © Tat Effby.

The 30 second rehearsal before the launch of The Shrewsbury Cartoon Players and Puppeteers inaugural performance of ‘The Animals Went In Two By Two’. Photo © Tat Effby. The Noah’s Ark was ironically moved indoors even though it would’ve been perfectly suited to the biblical weather conditions.

Royston Robertson featuring in the festival write-up in the Shropshire Star.

The festival produced a book of the ‘Drawn To Be Wild’ exhibition cartoons which is still available here price £9.95 + postage.

Thanks to all the organisers and sponsors for another successful festival that went down a storm.

Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival in the rear-view mirror.

April 25, 2018 in Events, General

Jonathan Cusick, Pete Dredge, John Roberts and Helen Pointer ‘drawing the crowds’.

Rupert Besley writes:

The sun shone on the righteous – and on the cartoonists in Shrewsbury. It was a bumper gathering in the town this last weekend, with visitors and participants drawn from far and wide. Few more so than festival regular Dean Alston from Down Under, whose ace Big Board, along with a Noel Ford classic, was among the first things to greet arrivals in The Square. Close by worked guest cartoonists from the States, Maria Scrivan and Ken Krimstein, while further input to the international flavour of the day came from the strong deputation of Belgians, all involved in the European Cartoon Centre at Kruishoutem near Ghent.

Big boards by Australia’s Dean Alston and the UK’s Noel Ford.

US cartoonists Maria Scrivan and Ken Krimstein with their big boards.

Cartoon by Nikola Hendrickx from Belgium and Nikola in action.

The private view of the ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ exhibition at The Bear Steps Gallery.

This was the 15th Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival and the theme of Transport was a fertile and perfect choice. The galleries (Bear Steps, Theatre Severn & V.A.N, plus Wendy Shea exhibition at Participate) gave proof, if ever needed, of what can be done from kicking around a good subject and, back in The Square, heads spun towards the reassuring sight of Air Flight Marshall at the check-in desk for budget airline Icarus Air.

The GORGEOUS Glenn Marshall at the Icarus Air check-in desk.

Roger Penwill fronts the Drawma while Noel Ford, Wilbur Dawbarn and Royston Robertson take to the boards accompanied by The Surreal Accordionist. 

You can count on Shrews for good live music from beneath the Market Hall and so it proved throughout. Mid-afternoon came the Drawma, with mellow accordion softening the oohs and aarrghs of those there for quick-drawn gags and terrible puns.

Caricaturists Alex Hughes suitably in tropical attire for the unseasonal heatwave.

Elsewhere in The Square, the line-up of top caricaturists was kept hard at it all day (Hughes, Roberts, Pointer, Cusick, Leatherbarrow, Dredge & Ryder, with Christelle Jones at Bear Steps). Meanwhile, other Big Boards got filled by the likes of (with apologies to anyone inadvertently missed) Clive & Amy Goddard, Steve Best, Royston Robertson, Wil Dawbarn, Ross Thomson, Ger Whyman, Hunt Emerson, Rich Skipworth, John Landers, The Surreal McCoy, Jeremy Banx, Roger Penwill, Nikola Hendrickx & present writer, not forgetting fine graphic contributions too from Zoom Rockman and Patrick Holden.

PCO Chair-human Clive Goddard with PCO’s Treasurer-human Amy Amani-Goddard.

Steve Best applying blue.

Maria Scrivan ‘likes’ Royston Robertson’s twitter cartoon. 

Gerard  Whyman hogs some limelight.

The top of Rich Skipworth.

The Surreal McCoy and her surreal cartoon.

Jeremy Banx creates Noah’s limo.

Semi-big boards by John Landers and Roger Penwill.

Ross Thomson & Hunt Emerson drawing and colouring in.

Dean Alston and Wilbur Dawbarn doing some more drawing and colouring in.

Rupert Besley on a familiar scene from a cartoonists daily life.

Zoom of Crouch End draws Clive of India.

Helen Pointer’s ‘Introduction to Caricature’ workshop.

The cartoon workshops are an important part of the festival – this year tackling caricature, movement in drawings, an automobile barn dance plus Stop Motion animation (Barry the Shrew) and some fun paper planes (from Biggles Rudling). Festival patrons Alex Lester and Martin Wainwright came up trumps in their support of the Festival, the former using his radio interview skills to host the panel of cartoonists in conversation at the Wightman Theatre on the Friday evening. The latter was able to apply some of his editing experience to the list of rules drawn up for the Air Cartooning contest that rounded off the following evening. And, on the Sunday morning, while bikers gathered in their droves on the outskirts of the town, festival participants were treated to a fascinating tour of Historic Shrewsbury.

Rupert Besley wins the inaugural ‘Air Cartooning’ Cartoon Off ® Noel Ford

Thanks and full credit to all responsible, beginning with organisers Sarah Knapp, Bill McCabe, Tim King, Roger Penwill, Noel Ford, and Jonathan Cusick, along with all the volunteer helpers, and not forgetting the many participants (including visitors) who made the whole thing so successful.

Thanks also to Mika Schick for the excellent photographs.

More detail on the festival: Shrewsbury International Cartoon Festival