Sunday, 17 January 2016

Influences 7 - Giles cartoons

It's been a while since I wrote an 'influences' post - the last was in August 2014 when I talked about the work of printmaker Ali Yanya. I suppose those posts are really about artists whose work I admire so their influence on my own work may not be immediately obvious. It's there to some degree though.

Whilst drawing the flying datamongers in my latest print, it suddenly dawned on me that there are two artists who have had a really strong influence on my work over the years and I've not realised it: Ronald 'Carl' Giles and Richard Scarry. I grew up with the cartoons and illustrations of these two, receiving a Giles annual every Christmas from the ages of about six to twenty, and Scarry books periodically. I'll save Scarry for another post but the two are similar in that the images are packed with recurring characters and action. I spent hours and hours looking at them, studying them, absorbing all the wonderful, comic details.

Giles started working as a cartoonist in 1937 for the left-wing paper Reynolds News, then moved to the Sunday Express in 1943. His cartoons were topical, commenting on current news and British attitudes in a very gentle way. 

My favourite cartoons were always the ones with the family in them; the extended family of which Grandma was the matriarch. She must be one of the best cartoon characters of all time - cheeky, beligerent and a bit scary. And you can't help but love the mini version of her - the little mop-haired boy who's always up to no good, quite often with a camera. These are just two members of this vast, familiar, never-aging family. I used to try and match the children to the adults. And I used the annuals as colouring books!

My own images have become sort of montages I suppose, composite images with different things going on. I think up until recently, if asked where this has come from, I'd have probably said looking at Grayson Perry's work. Now I think it goes back much further than that to the images that absorbed me as a child. Giles and Richard Scarry as influences? I'm fine with that!

If you'd like to look at more Giles cartoons, you can see them here.

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