Drawing Blood Q&A, week 1 - how did this project get started?

Drawing Blood Q&A, week 1 - how did this project get started?

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Drawing Blood, Drawing Poison, Drawing Fire - a pre-launch Q&A with the artist, Simon Grennan.

Funded by the Arts Council and led by artist Simon Grennan, ‘Drawing Blood’ is a new collaborative art project that creates a new online exhibition of twenty new, original animated artworks. Hosted by Gladstone’s Library, the online exhibition will also be available at Contemporary Art Space Chester and at Aura libraries in North Wales, including Broughton, Buckley, Mold, Deeside, Holywell, Connah’s Quay and Flint.

The new artworks are inspired by a book Simon found in the Gladstone’s Library collections. Dating from 1878, Gladstone from Judy’s Point of View collects cartoons satirising one of the hot topics of the period – liberal political opinion. As one of the major Liberal politicians, William Ewart Gladstone is often in the firing line of Judy’s cartoonists. In the tradition of political artists everywhere their pens puncture any political pomposity, drawing Gladstone (and others) not as respected statesman but as wobbly juggler, unstable acrobat, indecisive whirligig, pram-pushing lady, and many more.

Ahead of the exhibition’s launch, Simon gave us some exclusive insights into the production process. They’ll be posted on this blog each week: for a full list, please visit the project’s home page: https://www.gladstoneslibrary.org/reading-rooms/digital-gladstone/drawing-blood-drawing-poison-drawing-fire

How did this project get started?

It started with a treasure hunt, like lots of good stories. I’ve been rediscovering the work of little-known Victorian cartoonist and actress Marie Duval. This involves searching for her cartoons in lots of different places and following leads. She made lots of drawings for a magazine called Judy in the 1870s and 80s– a cheaper version of the famous Punch magazine. Judy was very popular and had loads of spin-offs, such as summer specials and books on special topics. I found one of these in Gladstone’s Library. It’s a book that collects together political cartoons about the Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister William Gladstone, which appeared in Judy between 1870 and 1880. Judy hated Gladstone (which was something that the magazine shared with Queen Victoria), so the cartoons are meant to make him, his ideas and partners look foolish, dishonest, incompetent, un-British and plain wrong. There are no Marie Duval drawings in this collection of cartoons, but I was intrigued by the idea that the ‘little plays’ of opinions and images that are shown in the cartoons have resonance today.

Sut wnaeth y prosiect hwn ddechrau?

Dechreuodd gyda helfa drysor, fel llawer o straeon da. Rwyf wedi bod yn ailddarganfod gwaith cartwnydd Fictoraidd ac actores anadnabyddus Marie Duval. Mae hyn yn cynnwys chwilio am ei chart?ns mewn llawer o wahanol fannau a dilyn arweiniad. Roedd wedi gwneud llawer o luniau ar gyfer cylchgrawn o’r enw Judy yn y 1870au ac 80au – fersiwn rhatach o’r cylchgrawn Punch poblogaidd. Roedd Judy yn boblogaidd iawn ac yn cynnwys llwyth o enghreifftiau, fel rhifynnau arbennig yr haf a llyfrau ar destunau arbennig. Roeddwn wedi canfod un o’r rhain yn Llyfrgell Gladstone. Mae’n lyfr sy’n casglu cart?ns gwleidyddol gyda’i gilydd am arweinydd y Blaid Rhyddfrydol a’r Prif Weinidog William Gladstone, wnaeth ymddangos yn Judy rhwng 1870 a 1880.  Roedd Judy yn casáu Gladstone (oedd yn rhywbeth wnaeth y cylchgrawn rannu gyda’r Frenhines Fictoria), felly bwriad y cart?ns yw gwneud iddo ef, ei syniadau a’i bartneriaid edrych yn wirion, yn anonest, anghymwys, di-Brydeinig ac yn anghywir. Nid oes yna unrhyw luniau gan Marie Duval yn y casgliad hwn o gart?ns, ond roeddwn yn rhyfeddu at y syniad bod y farn a’r delweddau a ddangosir yn y cart?ns yn bwysig heddiw.