WOKING.- Gordon Brown will most likely be avoiding Woking this autumn, when a retrospective of work by the sharp satirical cartoonist, Steve Bell, goes on show at The Lightbox. There will be a private view of the exhibition on October 7th where we will be joined by presenter of Radio 4s Today programme James Naughtie before opening to the public on October 8th.
Steve Bell: Drawing Politics and other animals (8th October 16th November) traces 12 key themes from Bells last 30 years as a leading political cartoonist. Best known for his long running if... series in the Guardian newspaper, he is famed for his cutting satire and ability to create iconic caricatures of leading politicians. Bell has famously depicted Tony Blair with a manic grin and one bulging eye, and John Major wearing his pants over his suit like some kind of awkward anti-hero.
At first it can be tricky says Bell, but over the years you get a sense for what makes politicians tick and develop the characters you can work with. Its very useful to see the politicians in the flesh. I usually stick with the photographers at party conferences and follow them round with my sketchbooks. You can sit almost looking up their noses and pick up the things that the camera misses.
Not often seen in public, these sketch books are the highlight of The Lightbox exhibition. They reveal how Bells incredible draughtsmanship and observational skills often enable him to capture the spark of an enduring caricature from just a few pencil lines.
The sketch books will be accompanied by a selection of original cartoons from Bells vast personal archive. Working to reproduction size on card or watercolour paper, using John Heath's Telephone Pen (Fine), brush and Indian ink, he currently draws five if... strips and four editorial cartoons for the Guardian a week in his studio in Brighton.
The resulting provocative images hit close to home and Bell freely admits that he often steps over the mark. His early cartoon strip in Time Out Maggies Farm was once condemned in the House of Lords as "an almost obscene series of caricatures".
Steve Bell was born in 1951 in London, raised in Slough, studied art in Middlesbrough and Leeds and worked briefly as a teacher in Birmingham before becoming a freelance cartoonist in 1977.
His original strip cartoon Maggies Farm appeared in Time Out and City Limits magazines from 1979 until 1987 and, since 1981 he has written and drawn the If
strip in the Guardian. Since 1990 he has produced four large free-standing cartoons a week on the leader pages of the Guardian, which now appear in full colour. As well as cartoons in a number of other publications, he has also made animated cartoons for TV with Bob Godfrey, including a cartoon biography, Margaret Thatcher Where Am I Now? broadcast on Channel 4.
Bells work has been published all over the world in over twenty five books and anthologies. Hes won numerous awards, including the Cartoon Arts Trust Award Best Strip cartoonist and/or Best Political Cartoonist eight times!