THE People’s History Museum are bringing some of the world’s most famous political figures to life – in eye-popping cartoon form.
Savage Ink, the Museum’s latest exhibition, is a vivid 200-year journey into the history of political caricatures.
Donald Trump, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair are just three of the individuals featured – but international figures like these are just a small part of a far more significant local history, according to museum curator Mark Wilson.
“During the 18th and 19th centuries, a lot of people weren’t entitled to the vote, but this is the period where working class people were beginning to truly engage with politics.” He explains.
“Many people were calling for universal Suffrage (votes for all), which is shown through these earlier works.”
Such ideas were the stimulus for important historical events within Manchester, such as the 1819 Peterloo massacre, in which 15 Mancunian activists were killed and hundreds more injured in a bold fight for the vote.
“It (Savage Ink) is a great opportunity to show the museum’s substantial collection of political and satirical cartoons, and what they mean to a democratic society.” Continues Wilson.
“At the same time, we want to compare and contrast them (the historical pieces) with contemporary examples, as it feels like a time when the caricature and cartoons are becoming important again.”
The People’s History Museum, located on Manchester’s left bank, is known as the ‘National museum of Democracy’.
For Wilson, who is well-acquainted with political history, satirical cartoons are one of the UK’s earliest and most unlikely signs of the public’s desire for a democratic system.
The exhibition sheds light on early cartoonists such as William Hogarth (1697-1764), who created a number of large-scale, fine-art depictions of elections, riots and national celebration.
“When you look at those old cartoons from the so-called ‘golden age’ – which included pioneers such as Gilray, Cruickshank, Hogarth and the like – we recognise that sometimes they were the only pictorial representation of actual events available.
“In a sense, the importance that these images held was in place of our modern day news – a reportage of events and public figures, if you like – Hogarth’s sequential pieces, which were originally painted, were engraved and sold as prints to a much wider, working-class audience.”
Alongside the more historical elements of the subject, visitors can also explore a plethora of tongue-in-cheek artworks, including tabloid cartoons, graphic novels and comic books.
Savage Ink is available to view at the People’s History Museum from now until Sunday 13th May 2018.
— Jenny White (@photo_jenn) October 20, 2017