To what extent should art galleries reflect contemporary concerns?
A cartoon about changing the exhibits in art galleries and museums to reflect contemporary society and to avoid offence.
It’s quite common in art galleries that exhibit contemporary art for the art to reflect contemporary concerns (or at least the contemporary concerns that concern the art world).
This cartoon shows a historical artwork being judged by contemporary mores (or rather, the mores of a particular sector of society that embraces ‘woke’ values).
Drawn: August 2020
Cartoon reference number: a841
A cartoon about cancel culture and historical thought crimes.
This cartoon is about the current (2020) phenomenon of cancel culture. This is the concept by which a person is ostracized or shunned if they are judged to hold unapproved views or have attitudes that run counter to those of the arbiters of what are acceptable views. It is a subsection of woke culture.
Cancel culture is responsible for such phenomena as no platforming, where people with proscribed views are denied the ability to put their views forward for debate, particularly in universities.
It is often applied to people based on attitudes that they held in the past. By this criterium practically everyone on the planet should be cancelled, which is one of the points of this cartoon. The saying “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” comes to mind.
Cancel culture is often applied to historical figures from several centuries ago, particularly (at the moment) to those involved in some way in the transatlantic slave trade, and is manifested in the current campaigns to remove statues.
Cancel culture can be viewed as having a stifling effect on culture and debate, with its, to me, zealously censorious woke attitudes and its Orwellian implications.
Drawn: 7th July 2020
Cartoon reference: a815
A cartoon about the concept that the use of any term that is not politically correct or woke-approved to define race or gender is offensive.
Language crime cartoon
This cartoon is about the tendency within woke culture for the use of unapproved terms to describe people, especially in the spheres of race and gender politics, to be viewed as offensive and open to condemnation, even if used innocently.
The terms that are approved and disapproved sometimes change quite regularly, so it can be hard to keep up.
Notice that I’m not giving any examples of approved or disapproved terms here, in case I inadvertently get it wrong. Also, as the cartoon states, to merely mention a disapproved term as an example is viewed as offensive itself.
At the time of drawing this cartoon the tendency to police language for political purity seems to be on the rise, however it’s been there for as long as I remember. In fact I drew my first cartoon about it in the 1980s.
A cartoon about woke language, political correctness, linguistic purity, Orwellian language, political purity.
Drawn:16th June 2020
Cartoon reference number: a807
The politics of race and the toppling of statues.
This cartoon illustrates the way that the current (2020) wave of protests and campaigns to remove statues on the grounds that the people depicted had links with the slave trade oversimplifies history, reducing it to a single issue, racism.
The cartoon makes use of two meanings of ‘black and white’ – one being the polarisation or over-simplification of things into binary issues and the other being the categorisation of people as racially being black or white.
The removal of statues is part of the campaign by Black Lives Matter and other groups such as the Rhodes Must Fall campaign.
Drawn: 11th July 2020
Cartoon reference number: a819
Sugar and its historic links to slavery.
The cartoon shows someone boycotting the use of sugar because of its historical links to the slave trade.
It’s also a cartoon about people who posture and who take extreme positions on issues.
Drawn: September 2020
Cartoon reference number: a854
From the Enlightenment to the Endarkenment – cartoon.
When I drew this cartoon I was very pleased when the term “The Endarkenment” came into my head as an original thought. I looked it up later and found that it’s been thought of before, to describe the same phenomenon.
I use it as a term for the current trend towards anti-rational thought, which includes anti-scientific, anti-historical and anti-establishment thought (I like to think I’m a bit anti-establishment myself, but definitely not anti-scientific or anti-historical).
The statue that is being toppled in the Endarkenment frame of the cartoon is based on the current phenomenon of the iconoclastic toppling of statues of establishment figures who are possibly linked to the slave trade (Many of them are, but the action is largely motivated by emotion, with little regard for historical context).
Drawn: September 2020
Cartoon reference number: a851
Stately homes and their links to slavery cartoon.
Decolonisation of the National Trust.
At the present moment (2020) the subject of racism and slavery is very high on the cultural/political agenda of some sections of society, as evidenced by the rise of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
Large sections of the establishment cultural landscape are being reanalysed in the light of race, slavery and colonialisation.
This cartoon is about the fact that recently the National Trust (the custodian of many stately homes in Britain) has started to redisplay the contents of some of its properties in the light of historical links to slavery, coupled with the news that the trust is thinking of concentrating its future efforts on its work that isn’t linked to historical buildings (The National Trust was partly created specifically to care for these buildings).
The cartoon shows a scenario in which stately homes are actually destroyed because of their links to slavery (links which may or may not be quite tenuous or may have been quite normal for the times), much in the way that parts of the contemporary anti-racist movement has toppled statues of establishment figures who had links to slavery.
Will future generations thank them, or will it be viewed as a form of vandalistic iconoclasm?
Drawn: September 2020
Cartoon reference number: a850
Culture wars cartoon – race and science in universities.
Culture wars are raging in universities and academic institutions across the western world. They are raging elsewhere too, but the culture wars in, say, the Islamic world, are different to the ones in the west.
The west’s culture wars often circle around subjects such as race and gender and identity politics that exist within the ‘woke’ analysis of culture.
At the time of drawing this cartoon the subject of race is very much to the fore, with movements such as BLM (Black Lives Matter) having a very high profile.
In academia many subjects in the social sciences are currently analysed through the perspective of critical race theory (CRT).
This cartoon illustrates a tendency to apply critical race theory to subjects where it has no relevance or where its relevance is overstated.
Drawn: September 2020
Cartoon reference number: a849
Being accused of historical crimes against contemporary social values.
This cartoon is about the tendency within parts of contemporary culture, especially woke culture, to criticise people for attitudes that they held in the past that are now thought of (within those parts of contemporary culture) to be reprehensible.
These attitudes may be ones that are generally agreed to be outdated or they may be ones that are
A cartoon about wokeness, political correctness, moral purity, Orwellian attitudes, political purity, social values, contemporary mores, intolerance, tolerance, thought crime.
Drawn:1st Aug 2020
Cartoon reference number: a827
A cartoon about hypercritical student attitudes demanding the removal (deaccessioning) of artworks from galleries.
A cartoon about woke culture and the trend for students’ grievances and dissatisfactions to be translated into action, such as in the form no platforming or the demands for statues of out-of-favour people to be removed.
The action is often seen by some as self-righteous, self-indulgent, censorious and intolerant (ironically, as the students often think that they are acting for the greater benefit of others).
The cartoon shows the danger of the students adopting a feeling of over-entitlement and thus taking their attitudes out into the wider world beyond their colleges.
The inspiration for this image was a news story about students disapproving of a sculpture by Henry Moore, and demanding that it wasn’t displayed on their university campus.
The cartoon was drawn in 2016, but it seems even more relevant in 2020 with the woke culture on the ascendency. There are lots of statue removing campaigns going on at the moment (August, 2020) and there’s a bit of a campaign to have a mural by Rex Whistler in Tate Britain removed because a detail of it depicts a black person in chains.
In 2018 a painting, Hylas and the Nymphs by J W Waterhouse, was removed temporarily from Manchester Art Gallery as part of an art event by Sonia Boyce as a comment on what some people view as inappropriate art for the modern age.
Cartoon reference: a734
A cartoon inspired by the campaigns to remove statues of slave traders and imperialists from the public sphere (in 2015).
This cartoon is about the tendency for social grievances around issues such as race and gender to be directed towards people of higher privilege, so in western society almost all grievances are ultimately directed towards white men. Specifically middle-aged or old white men, as young people often have grievances directed towards older people (middle-aged men tend to be commoner targets than older men as they are often in higher positions of power or authority).
The cartoon was drawn in 2015, five years before the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol in 2020. I expect the campaigns and protests to remove statues of other controversial figures such as Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford University (Rhodes Must Fall) will now be given new momentum.