Tuesday, October 02, 2012

The Big Drawn

Please excuse the quality of most of the photos. I took one picture with my camera and the battery immediately died. The rest of the pictures are from my iPhone. My 'first generation, gets laughed at by other iPhone users, extremely poor camera', iPhone. Bah!

This year's Big Draw, a month long celebration of drawing, launched on Sunday in splendid style with the opening event 'Big Draw, Big Make' in London's V&A Museum. Talks and demonstrations by top designers Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and Richard Seymour, illustrator Quentin Blake and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe took place throughout the day, along with portfolio reviews, pop up art studios to visit  - plenty to keep kids and adults alike busy all day.

They also let a bunch of us cartoonists in for workshops and to do battle in front of a baying crowd. 

Such larks! (c) Rosie Brooks

The four cartoon workshops were organised by the Professional Cartoonists' Organisation and ran throughout the day. I'd arrived at around 11.30 and the first workshop was already up and running. Fellow PCO member Robert Duncan was entertaining a full crowd of kids and adult, getting them all involved and offering suggestions of things to draw. All the benches and tables were full, so kids were scribbling on the floor too (well not on the actual floor - that is illegal and would get us all imprisoned. Probably)

Robert Duncan taking his cartoon workshop

While I was waiting for my workshop to start, I wandered around the room we were set up in.It was decided that we'd use the Raphael room. Here's what the V&A website says about it:

This room houses the surviving designs painted by Raphael, one of the greatest of all Italian Renaissance artists, for tapestries commissioned in Rome in 1515 by Pope Leo X . These were to hang in the Sistine chapel on the walls beneath the ceiling by his contemporary Michelangelo. Although originally only designs (known as "cartoons") to guide the weavers, they are now among the greatest artistic treasures in Britain. Owned by the British Royal Family since 1623, they have been on loan to the Museum since 1865.

So, Raphael cartoons in the Raphael room... perfect for cartoon workshops! Perfect for the upcoming Battle of the Cartoonists! Yes, well... uh... bit dark, innit? Of course its entirely understandable - the seven Raphael's on display are priceless and the subdued lighting protects them admirably, but I could foresee a lot of eye strain. Fear not, however! I had a solution for everyone...

To which I had the reply...

No-one donned a helmet though. Conformists!

Click image to enlarge

Next up was my workshop - creating comic strips. Great fun! After an initial explanation of what we were doing, I spent the next 90 minutes wandering from family to family talking through their ideas and seeing how they could come up with ideas and characters and produce a strip for them to take home to stick on the wall. I estimate we must have handed out around 200 worksheet sets. As usual the kids came up with so many amazing concepts and characters. Always a pleasure to do these workshops.

I've heard from Cathy Simpson and Will Dawbarn that their workshops were heaving too and very successful. Good to see our efforts paid off.

Team Sun are go, go, go!

With barely time to catch my breath, it was straight over to the main event of the day... The Battle of the Cartoonists! Seven teams (Reader's Digest, Private Eye, The Sun, Big Girl's Drawers, Guardian/Observer, Professional Cartoonists' Organisation and The Telegraph) were taking part and I was drafted in last minute to Team Sun, alongside Andy Davey and Clive Goddard.

Despite not knowing what Raphael painting we were supposed to base our banner on, (it would be decided half an hour before the start via a random draw in front of official referee and adjudicator Libby Purves)  we'd decided to get a bit sneaky and plan a design ahead of time that would allow us to simply slot whatever Raphael we got in.

Click image to enlarge
After a bit of umm and aahing, I came up with the idea of an Antiques Roadshow scene featuring the Royal Family. In lieu of any other ideas, we decided to go for it!

Andy Davey caricatures on my bodies... Working as a team!
A wonderfully demented looking Camilla, by Andy Davey

Outstanding work by Clive Goddard
More excellent caricature work from Andy

After 2 hours we were finished. Despite 3 cartoonists with differing styles working on it, I though our styles melded in together very well - with the final banner resembling a newspaper strip- the effect I had hoped for. It certainly helped working in black and white for the most part, with only the painting and the Sun logo adding a dash of spot colour. For my first experience taking part in a Battle of the Cartoonists, it was pleasantly stress free and a lot more fun than I'd originally imagined - No "where's my pencil?" "The caption goes there, buffoon!" or "Where's my agent? I'm not working in this light!"

A big, big thank you to Andy and Clive for their brilliant cartooning skills and reassuring manner! 'No worries - we'll have it done in plenty of time'...

I didn't manage to take any decent pictures of the finished banner, but I'm sure there'll be plenty showing up on Facebook or the PCO blog.

Like these ones!  http://procartoonists.org/big-drawings-from-the-big-draw/

And that was it! Just the judging left. Since we were in a museum, surrounded by priceless works of art, the crowd couldn't cheer or clap to vote for their favourite banner, for fear of kicking up a dust tsunami that would engulf the entire room. Instead they were told to shuffle over to their favourite an stand there. Whoever had the biggest crowd wins. Simple!

So, Private Eye won for the 3rd year in a row. Yay. ( I'm not bitter! :)

Ger, Tim, Nathan. Three men and a pipe.
Finally it was off to the pub for post match analysis, beer and trying out Henry Davies' pipe.
A few pints later and it was time to go. All in all a good day.

Looking forward to next year!


Gerard Whyman said...

Great account of the day, Tim!

TimHarries said...

Thanks Ger!

we can definitely put that in our pipe and smoke it!

Matthew said...

Gerard looks as if he's doing his Mike Yarwood impression.

Pete Dredge said...

Ger looks frighteningly like Kelvin Mackenzie in that shot.

Pete Dredge said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TimHarries said...

Whoops.. double post from Pete - I've deleted the duplicate.

So, Ger looks like Mike Yarwood *and* Kelvin MacKenzie? A man of many talents!

Andy Davey said...

What Tim fails to mention is the fact that we would have been lost without his genius idea and as-ever brilliant simple style of drawing.

The man is an unsung genius; except that he sings sometimes, when he's a sung genius.

That Clive Goddard's not too bad either.

Unknown said...

What the extremely modest genius Tim Harries fails to mention is that we would have been a clueless bunch of wasters without him. Tim's idea and rough preparation were works of pure genius, I think. The b/w plus a little colour idea worked perfectly and enabled us to avoid some dreadful leaden political satire of the Raphael cartoon, which I would have struggled to produce.

That boy's a genius. Did I mention that?

That Clive Goddard's not too bad either.

TimHarries said...

blimey! *blushes*