Drawing Blood Q&A, week 4 - what do you want this project to achieve?

Drawing Blood Q&A, week 4 - what do you want this project to achieve?

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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

What do you want the project to achieve?

One of the things that most impressed me about the book of political cartoons was the fact that they reduce the business of the British Parliament to a slapstick pantomime, played out on a very small stage by a very small number of men. This vision of Parliament affected me because of the truly global, life and death significance of the debates and laws that were created by these people. I want other people to look through the history to feel this too. The consequences of the interaction of this small group of white men (who largely shared a religious faith, even if they held different political ideas) were patriarchal, imperial and colonial. The political spats and dramas that were reduced to fall-about comedy in the Victorian cartoons were entirely masculine (there were no women in Parliament). They produced the murderous horrors of empire-building across thousands of miles and hundreds of cultures, the slavery of millions of people, the snatching of resources, the erasure of history and the imposition of a world view – the theft of truth. I was moved by the depiction of these huge processes in the ‘little plays’ of the political cartoons, with their threadbare sets and costumes, ridiculous actors and physical humour. The new animated films include portraits of real people, past and present. The lives of these people involved or involve struggles with challenges created by the world and worked-for by the Victorian actors on the pantomime Parliamentary stage in the cartoons. Alongside my visible dismembering of the cartoons in the new animations and the addition of new slapstick stories in colour, these characters act as ‘witnesses’ to the new (animated) and the old (Victorian) comedy/dramas. Their presence is calm, truthful even, in comparison with the mad, self-referential burlesque bouncing and crashing around them.

Beth ydych eisiau i’r prosiect ei gyflawni?

Un o’r pethau wnaeth fy mhlesio fwyaf am y llyfr cart?ns gwleidyddol oedd y ffaith eu bod yn lleihau busnes y Senedd Brydeinig i bantomeim, a berfformir ar lwyfan bach iawn gan nifer fach iawn o ddynion. Roedd y darlun hwn o’r Senedd yn effeithio arnaf oherwydd gwir arwyddocâd byd-eang, bywyd a marwolaeth y trafodaethau a’r cyfreithiau oedd yn cael eu creu gan y bobl hyn.  Rwyf eisiau i bobl eraill edrych drwy’r hanes i deimlo hyn hefyd.  Roedd canlyniadau’r rhyngweithio rhwng y gr?p bach hwn o ddynion gwyn (oedd yn bennaf yn rhannu ffydd grefyddol, hyd yn oed os oes ganddynt syniadau gwleidyddol gwahanol) yn batriarchaidd, imperialaidd a threfedigaethol. Roedd y ffraeo a dramâu gwleidyddol oedd yn cael eu cyfleu fel comedi yn y cart?ns Fictoraidd yn gwbl wrywaidd (nid oedd unrhyw fenywod yn y Senedd). Roeddent yn cynhyrchu’r arswyd llofruddiaethol o adeilad ymerodraeth ar draws miloedd o filltiroedd a channoedd o ddiwylliannau, caethwasiaeth miliynau o bobl, dwyn adnoddau, dileu hanes a gorthrwm barn y byd – dwyn y gwir. Cefais fy nghyfareddu gan y darlun o’r prosesau anferth hyn yn y ‘lluniau bach’ o’r cart?ns gwleidyddol, gyda’u setiau llwm a gwisgoedd, actorion chwerthinllyd a hiwmor corfforol. Mae’r ffilmiau animeiddio newydd yn cynnwys lluniau o bobl real, o’r gorffennol a’r presennol. Roedd bywydau’r bobl hyn yn cynnwys ei chael hi’n anodd ymdopi gyda heriau a grëwyd gan y byd a grëwyd gan yr actorion Fictoraidd hyn ar y llwyfan Seneddol pantomeim yn y cart?ns.  Ynghyd â fy natgymalu gweladwy o’r cart?ns hyn yn yr animeiddiadau newydd a’r ychwanegiad o straeon newydd mewn lliw, mae’r cymeriadau hyn yn actio fel ‘tystion’ i’r comedi/dramâu newydd (animeiddio) a’r hen (Fictoraidd). Mae eu presenoldeb yn dawel, yn wir hyd yn oed, o’i gymharu â’r bwrlesg gwallgof, hunan-gyfeiriol sy’n sboncio ac yn gwrthdaro o’u cwmpas nhw.