Black History Month Cartoon Exhibition Write-up

 

30357948991_e044580ac8_o

Image source: @olaojo15 (c)

October is Black History Month (BHM) in the UK and I have always wanted to do something to celebrate BHM for years. So on 18 July, I made a phone call to the British Cartoon Archive at the University of Kent and that call led to several other phone calls and over 100 emails mostly about acquiring cartoon copyright permissions. About 3 months later after that initial phone call, on Saturday 15 October, I had a Black History Month cartoon exhibition at the University of Huddersfield’s Heritage Quay. I was encouraged by ROTOЯ colleagues to extend the exhibition beyond October 15 for an extra week (October 17-21) at the University of Huddersfield’s Creative Arts Building atrium. This was to enable more university staff and students to see and engage with the cartoons.

I was inspired to do the BHM cartoon exhibition because of my late mum. In the late 80s and early 90s my mum would cut out Nigerian political newspaper cartoons. She would staple these cartoon clippings together and they provided a chronological historical account of key national news and events. The aim of the BHM cartoon exhibition was to do what my mum did for a limited family audience and curate an historical snapshot of key Black-British events and news over the last fifty years. The power of political cartoons is their ability to communicate a lot using a simple image with or without a short caption of text.

Most of the curated cartoons satirise immigration, racism, discrimination and British arms sale. The immigration cartoons were of great interest to me as a first generation immigrant in this country who came here in the early 2000s. The portrayal and treatment of Black immigrants in the 60s and 70s is frightening and this is vividly captured in a number of the cartoons. The recent xenophobic abuse and attacks that occurred after the Brexit referendum indicate that there might be troubling times ahead as repressed anti-immigration feelings emerged from the shadows again. History reveals is that if a nation refuses to learn the negative lessons of its past then that nation is destined to repeat them with disastrous consequences for everyone concerned. It is important that we don’t descend back into the darkness of the 60s and 70s despite the Brexit tide pushing us in that direction.

I was particularly drawn to the cartoons with British/African links. A good example is Arthur Horner’s 1968 cartoon of Harold Wilson (British Prime minister) selling arms to General Yakubu Gown (Nigerian Head of State) during the Nigerian Civil War. This is one of my favourite cartoons in the exhibition. Horner draws a grizzly figure called genocide behind the crate of arms. It is estimated that over a million people were killed in this three year civil war. There is also a cartoon about the sale of British arms to South Africa during apartheid. Arms manufacturing is a big industry in the UK and a lucrative money earner for the British Government.

I would have loved to curate many more cartoons in the BHM exhibition but copyright permission played a key role in the final selection of exhibited cartoons. The Daily Express was the only newspaper which allowed me to exhibit their cartoons (8) for free in the October 15 exhibition. The paper however wanted payment from me to use these cartoons in the October 17-21 BHM exhibition. This meant the 21 cartoons displayed during the week-long exhibition were those owned by deceased cartoonists’ estates and three cartoonists who are still alive.  They gave me permission to exhibit their cartoons for free in both exhibitions.

Sincere thanks to Nicholas Garland, Dave Brown, Peter Schrank, Renee Waite, Susannah Gibbard, Nina Kent, Julia, Jane and Diane (daughters of Arthur Horner) and the Daily Express (N&S Syndication) for granting permission to use their cartoons for free.

Thanks to the British Cartoon Archive (especially Elspeth Millar) for providing access to the cartoonists and their cartoons.

I also want to thank Professor Steve Swindells, Dr Anna Powell, Sarah Pennington and ROTOЯ for their support bringing the BHM cartoon exhibition to the Creative Arts Building atrium and Simon Campbell-Skelling {Kirklees Council} for his assistance getting the exhibition into the council’s BHM events’ brochure .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Black History Month Cartoon Exhibition Set-up from Olaojo Aiyegbayo on Vimeo.

 

The chronological list of the 29 BHM cartoons exhibited across two exhibitions:

50s (1)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: MC0092, Michael Cummings, Daily Express, 12 January 1955. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=MC0092.jpg

60s (12)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: VY1645, Victor Weisz, New Statesman, 02 April 1960.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=VY1645.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: MC0783, Michael Cummings, Daily Express, 14 April 1960. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=MC0783.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: MC0785, Michael Cummings, Sunday Express, 17 April 1960. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=MC0785.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: MC0815, Michael Cummings, Daily Express, 18 July 1960. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=MC0815.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: VY1790, Victor Weisz, New Statesman, 10 February 1961.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=VY1790.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: VY2200, Victor Weisz, New Statesman, 10 May 1963.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=VY2200.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: VY2692, Victor Weisz, New Statesman, 12 March 1965.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=VY2692.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 07498, Victor Weisz, New Statesman, 06 August 1965.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=07498.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: GAN/1567, Ronald Carl Giles, Daily Express, 20 April 1967. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=GAN1627.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 12782, Michael Cummings, Daily Express, 16 February 1968. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=12782.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: AH0216, Arthur Horner, New Statesman, 31 May 1968. Copyright holder: Arthur Horner Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=AH0216.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 16180, Les Gibbard, The Guardian, 01 September 1969. Copyright holder: Les Gibbard Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=16180.jpg

70s (7)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 17102, Les Gibbard, The Guardian, 20 January 1970. Copyright holder: Les Gibbard Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=17102.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 17929, Keith Waite, Daily Mirror, 05 June 1970. Copyright holder: Keith Waite Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=17929.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 19777, Les Gibbard, The Guardian, 24 February 1971. Copyright holder: Les Gibbard Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=19777.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 29357, John Kent, Daily Mail, 27 April 1976. Copyright holder: John Kent Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=29357.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 29475, Keith Waite, Daily Mirror, 25 May 1976. Copyright holder: Keith Waite Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=29475.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 30503, Keith Waite, Daily Mirror, 22 February 1977. Copyright holder: Keith Waite Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=30503.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 31538, John Kent, Daily Mail, 04 January 1978. Copyright holder: John Kent Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=31538.jpg

 80s (5)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 45905, John Kent, Daily Mail, 17 July 1985. Copyright holder: John Kent Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=45905.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 49616, Michael Cummings, Sunday Express, 20 October 1985. Copyright holder: N&S Syndication.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=49616.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 41176, John Kent, Private Eye, 11 July 1986. Copyright holder: John Kent Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=41176.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 49557, Les Gibbard, The Guardian, 12 July 1986. Copyright holder: Les Gibbard Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=49557.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 37483, Nicholas Garland, The Independent, 29 March 1988. Copyright holder: Nicholas Garland.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=37483.jpg

90s (1)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: PC2470, Michael Cummings, The Times, 26 July 1997. Copyright holder: Michael Cummings Estate.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=PC2470.jpg

2000s (3)

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 70178, Dave Brown, The Independent, 07 October 2004. Copyright holder: Dave Brown.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=70178.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: 70867, Dave Brown, The Independent, 28 January 2005. Copyright holder: Dave Brown.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=70867.jpg

British Cartoon Archive, University of Kent: SCD0166, Peter Schrank, The Independent on Sunday, 12 January 2014. Copyright holder: Peter Schrank.

http://archives.cartoons.ac.uk/GetMultimedia.ashx?db=Catalog&type=default&fname=SCD0166.jpg

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Please share your comments on this post