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The Independent, 3 Dec 2013 - Kasia Kowalska

Political Cartoon of the Year: Drawing the line on the powerful.

Dave Brown is defending his title as winner of the Political Cartoon of the Year tomorrow. Kasia Kowalska meets the man behind the pictures

Sitting across the table from me in The Betjeman Arms in St. Pancras, nursing a pint, is the four-time winner of the Political Cartoon of the Year award, The Independent's Dave Brown.

Tonight he will be defending his title against Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Peter Brookes, Chris Riddell and more.

His Rogues' Gallery cartoon on the Leveson enquiry, The Last, Last, Last Chance Saloon, won the award in 2012, and this year he's chosen The Fighting Portsmouth, a cartoon on the recent BAE shipyard closure, for his entry. How did he decide on that particular cartoon?

"I think it's quite difficult picking a cartoon. The trouble with being a political cartoonist is that a lot of what you do is so ephemeral. A few months removed from the story, which may have faded in people's memory, a lot of cartoons don't mean very much. One reason why I picked The Fighting Portsmouth was that it's still current. You're also always more pleased with what you've done most recently. It's one of the Rogues' Gallery cartoons so it has an added recognition factor: it's based on Turner's The Fighting Temeraire, which is, supposedly, the nation's most-loved painting."

Brown made his mark as the creator of Rogues' Gallery, which has, since 2003, appeared on the pages of the Saturday edition of The Independent.

How did he come up with the idea of giving classic paintings a satirical edge?

"Anything that looks familiar, but which you can turn into something unfamiliar and strange, is a gift – all grist to the mill. It's a reference point to start with and it's fun for me. I get to play at being Francis Bacon one week and Caravaggio the next. It's a political cartoon with its own brand. It has a life of its own."

A political cartoonist's job is to hold up a mirror to the powerful. Seeing that he is one of the leading political cartoonists in the country, has he become part of the establishment he is supposed to lampoon?

"I hope not," he says, "I sit at home wearing old jeans and a black T-shirt covered in Indian ink most days, scratching away at a piece of paper. If that's the establishment, it doesn't feel much like it. Cartooning tends to be anti-establishment. To an extent you are a licensed jester but you are never quite on the inside."

According to Brown, cartoons can't change the world, though it might be their intention. The most they might do is influence people who are already leaning towards one's point of view. Upon reflection, however, he concedes that cartoonists can be a small part of shaping the way people think. Does he have a favourite among his own cartoons that might have done that?

"There was one I did last year when the Hillsborough Independent Panel's report came out. There were a lot of pictures of Thatcher walking around Hillsborough with the police a few days after the tragedy, supposedly being briefed on what had happened – which, of course, we now know was a fiction – and who was very happy to swallow it all and blame the Liverpool fans.

"I did a cartoon of Thatcher down by the corner of the pitch, lifting it up like a carpet as the police swept bodies underneath. I got a lot of favourable responses from people in Liverpool.

"I was worried about offending the families of the Hillsborough fans; they'd gone through a lot. I don't usually worry about offending people very much; it's sort of the job to offend. However, a lot of people rang up who liked the cartoon. One guy said, 'Not many people read The Independent on Merseyside but they're selling loads of copies today 'cause everyone's been talking about your cartoon.' That makes you feel you've done your job properly."

See all the cartoons and vote for your favourite., 10 May 2013 - Roy Greenslade

after the inquiry and the report comes 'Leveson the exhibition'

I doubt that Lord Justice Leveson, or any of us for that matter, imagined at its July 2011 inception that his eponymous inquiry into the ethics and practices of the press would have quite such an impact.

No day passes, it seems, without some mention somewhere of "Leveson", and often - given that the majority of publishers and editors are displeased with the outcome - rather unkindly.

Sir Brian might have expected that. But he will surely be surprised to hear that his inquiry is to form the centrepiece of a gallery exhibition. Next week sees the opening of "After Leveson: two views of the press" at the ellwood atfield gallery around the corner from parliament, in Smith Square.

According to the publicity "two compelling and competing visions of the press" will "challenge" visitors.

In one gallery room, the noted campaigner for freedom of expression (and against Leveson), Mick Hume, is staging an exhibit entitled: "There is no such thing as a free press; but we need one more than ever."

In gallery two, Hacked Off, the campaigning group for press victims (and for Leveson), will "show how far today's press has hurt and damaged us."

The blurb says: "We are delighted to have conceived and organised this challenging exhibition."

The concept behind this art exhibition may sound odd but the gallery itself is unique. It is "dedicated to exploring the role, character and importance of communications" and was set up with help from the Press Association.

What next? Doubtless, Leveson: the musical is on the way and a scriptwriter is surely trawling through the mountains of evidence to create a TV drama (sounds like a job for Richard Norton-Taylor, formerly of this parish).

Meanwhile, given the competing royal charters and the lack of any sign of a new press regulator being formed, I guess we could say that Leveson on ice is already with us.

PS: I would guess that everyone knows the identities of the people pictured in the publicity shot above. But, recalling the traditional subbing rule about not publishing pictures of people without explaining who they are, here goes:

From top left, clockwise: Sienna Miller, Robert Jay QC, Jeremy Paxman, Rebekah Brooks, Alan Rusbridger, Steve Coogan, Leveson LJ andRupert Murdoch., 16 October 2012

the communications gallery

Yesterday saw the opening of The Communications Gallery. Yes, a gallery space “dedicated to exploring the role, character and importance of communications”. It resides on the ground floor of the handsome Westminster town house, Thorney House, that is ellwood atfield’s HQ. As Ben Atfield observed at the opening party, the distinct industries and disciplines that evolved during the 20th Century – advertising, marketing, corporate communications, branding, media, public relations, public affairs – are all converging. It is his hope that the gallery will stimulate debate about what constitutes communications in the 21st Century.

The inaugural exhibition explores the topic of authenticity in conjunction with the Press Association. With image so central to much of communications and the interpretation of authenticity, a selection of photograph’s from PA’s archives posed the question of who wants it, who’s got it and who’s lost it. There was a vote last night on what the guests thought, but as is the way with all galleries it doesn’t really matter what other people think, it’s what you think that’s important. So go and make your own mind up – the gallery is aiming to have an open door on Thursday afternoons. ellwood atfield are also keen to canvas opinion on what future projects the gallery should pursue and are open to possible partnerships. Suggestions should be sent to

Press Association supports Ellwood Atfield Gallery

The Press Association has provided a selection of over 45 images for use in Ellwood Atfield’s gallery exhibition designed to explore the role, character and importance of communications in society today. The recruitment consultancy is displaying images from a range of great orators in commercial and public life, whose communication skills have made a difference by engaging audiences throughout the years. The exhibition, which opened last night at Smith Square in Westminster, also marks the launch of a new look for Ellwood Atfield. Ellwood Atfield's offices are in the former Conservative Party Headquarters and the gallery area where the images are displayed includes the former Shadow Cabinet room.