Aura Leisure and Libraries are excited to announce our participation in a new digital project with Gladstone Library in 2021. Funded by the Arts Council and led by artist Simon Grennan, ‘Drawing Blood’ will create 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, Holywell, Connah’s Quay and Flint.
The new artworks are inspired by a book Grennan 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.
An expert in nineteenth-century cartoons and art, who has published several books on the work of Judy cartoonist Marie Duval, Grennan knows well the quality and humour of the artworks. In his redrawing and reimagining the work of Judy’s Victorian cartoonists, Grennan will help us all to get to know the work of some of the most skilled, but not well known, artists of the period. Digital technology means that not only will more people experience the new artworks online, but the drawings themselves will be able to come alive in the way that the Victorian originals (already full of life!) never could.
The exhibition is supported by a series of online drawing workshops, inspired by the exhibition, where anyone can learn to start drawing cartoons. Anyone can have a go, whether they have lots of experience in drawing, or none at all. What can we learn about these Victorian cartoonists, and the way they used class, gender, sexuality, and colonialism to humorously critique their politicians? How can we bring this to our own drawing, and our own time?
Simon Grennan is part of the international visual arts studio Grennan & Sperandio, producer of over 40 comics and books and hundreds of public projects. He is Leading Research Fellow at the University of Chester.
Gladstone’s Library is a residential library that houses one of the world’s most significant nineteenth-century collections. Founded by Victorian Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, the Library remains a space for study, discussion and reflection.
Contemporary Art Space Chester is a range of pop-up and permanent exhibition spaces in and around the University of Chester and the city of Chester, including the Foyer Gallery at Creative Campus Kingsway and the Forum Shopping Centre Gallery in the heart of the city.
For further information about ‘Drawing Blood’, please visit Gladstone’s Library’s Digital Gladstone pages.