Herne Bay Cartoon Festival 2015

David Cross curated the festival’s Outrage! exhibition at the reopened Seaside Museum. He also painted the watercolour below titled ‘Shooting Cartoonists at the Seaside’, illustrating the Cartooning Live! event at the Herne Bay Bandstand on Sunday August 2nd. He explains: “I was around all day, mainly taking photos and noticing all the other heavy-camera guys snapping away like crazy. I sat at the drawing board the next day and put it together from photos and memory and some invention.” The photographer pictured at the front is George Wilson, a recorder of Herne Bay’s social and cultural life since the 1960s.

Outrage! was the first of our cartoon exhibitions to open this year and revealed a brief history of offensive cartoons showing work from the British Cartoon Archive (housed at the University of Kent) and private collections. It featured David Low, the infamous Oz school kids editions, a cartoon even Private Eye didn’t dare publish and one that provoked a diplomatic incident. But perhaps the most shocking to many visitors were some Andy Capp cartoons. We also exhibited a never-before-seen Ralph Steadman – his personal response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, which is also a demonstration of the right to offend.

Steve Coombes, one of the festival organisers with Ralph Steadman’s response to Charlie Hebdo.

Leader of Canterbury City Council, Colin Carmichael was given a ‘private view’ of the Outrage! exhibition by its curator, David

Responsibility for The Seaside Museum was handed over to an independent trust by CCC in 2015 and it reopened at the end of July after refurbishment. Outrage! was the first exhibition in the upstairs gallery and over the four weeks it was open it attracted 650 visitors and some excellent feedback. Below are some of the comments from the visitors book. There were three complaints. One that it was not outrageous enough. One comment about the absence of female cartoonists (duly noted!) and one who thought we should have given a warning.

-“Terrific collection and choice of topics, and very amusing, especially with the narrative explanations. Well Done!”
-“Small museum, big ideas – loved the exhibition.”
-“Outrageous! Splendidly so…”
-“Who knew cartoonists could worry the likes of Napoleon and Hitler ? Good stuff.”
-“Brilliant show. Bravo for putting it on… I think the Martin Rowson most pertinent and important. Don’t silence the commentators. Thanks very much.”
-“A strongly curated and interesting exhibition.”
-“Unexpected exhibition. It caught me by surprise, but worthy nonetheless.”
-“I laughed and cried.”
-“Brilliant. Keep mocking the pompous prats!”

At the Bay Art Gallery, run by the Ct6 contemporary arts group, we presented an exhibition of work by Martin Honeysett. Martin was loved and admired by all the cartooning community and his sudden death in January 2015 shocked everyone. For the last two years Martin had come to Herne Bay for our festival events and in 2014 his huge cartoon board, wittily drew attention to our iconic clock tower which was then undergoing restoration and covered up with scaffolding.

Martin’s family and friends joined us for the weekend and Herne Bay’s MP, Sir Roger Gale opened the exhibition with a moving speech. Sir Roger also announced the Honeysett prize, in Martin’s honour, which will be awarded for the first time next year. The prize is for the best local young cartoonist and the competition will be open for entries from February 2016. The best entries will be exhibited in one of our galleries during next year’s festival and will be entered into the national Young Cartoonist of the Year competition.

“Such wit and drawing skill combined. Made me laugh out loud.”

“A wry look at the darker side of modern life. Very clever and very funny.”

“Such humour and such talent. We are privileged to have this exhibition here.”

“Wonderful to see such a varied collection all together in one place. Such terrific drawings, such dark and hilarious jokes.”

“Absolutely wonderful tribute to a fantastic artist and a lovely man.”

To the right is Martin Honeysett at the Central Bandstand Herne Bay during the 2014 Cartoon Festival.

At Beach Creative community art gallery we held an exhibition of new cartoons, many created for the festival.

Following the horrific murders at the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris, the Pro Cartoonist organisation produced a book of cartoons inspired by these events and this was published under the title, Draw the Line Here. During our exhibition we sold 35 copies of the book with all proceeds going to the families of the Hebdo victims.

Candles by Surreal McCoy from the book Draw the Line Here

In keeping with our seaside location we decided to call our exhibition Lines in the Sand and we even made our own beach with real sand outside the gallery.

More than 500 visitors enjoyed this exhibition, which was open for two weeks. We sold 25 original cartoons, benefitting both the artists and Beach Creative who took 10% commission on each sale. As a community arts gallery, Beach Creative relies entirely on this kind of funding to keep open. We also contributed by paying gallery and workshop fees and by donating some of our large cartoon boards as permanent exhibits at the gallery.

Dave Brown, cartoonist, at Beach Creative

Beach Creative was also the venue for our cartooning and comic strip workshops, led by Cathy Simpson and Tim Harries. These popular workshops took place over the weekend, enabling inspiring cartoonists and artists to get expert advice and help from the professional cartoonists. All the workshops were free and open to everyone.

The Cartooning Live! event took place as usual at Herne Bay’s Central Bandstand and once again we were blessed with fantastic weather. 22 professional cartoonists were there to show off their skills and chat to visitors. There was live music throughout the afternoon from local duos, The Jazz Police and Daylight Saving. We estimate that throughout the day there were more than 1200 visitors.

Jeremy Bank created seven great designs for flags which we proudly flew from the flagpoles on the roof of the Central Bandstand. Local schoolgirl Bee helped us raise the first flag.

Royston Robertson might be
slighted obsessed with seagulls

Even Jeremy Banx can’t hold back
the tide…

Dave Brown – at the end of a long hot

Simon Ellinas creates caricatures for the visitors and Tim Harries shows a young fan how to create a cartoon character. On the next page, Des Buckley sums up the day in headgear…

I suppose you can tell when a festival has really found its place in a town’s heart and on its calendar. This year we
generated our very first ‘fringe’ event at One New Street Gallery which mounted its own

We were thrilled and all the cartoonists dropped in to see the alternative show.

Special thanks to Kesia Kowalska who took most of the photographs in this report.
And to Di Long, Royston Robertson, Gerard Whyman, David Cross and Simon Ellinas
who took the rest.