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Steve Bell 'Drawing Politics and Other Animals':

8. October — 16. November,
Tues - Sat: 10.00am - 5.00pm, Sun: 11.00am - 5.00pm
Upper Gallery
Free Entry.

Re-live the political scandals of the 80s and 90s through the drawings and original artwork of Britain's most renowned political cartoonist.

DRAWING POLITICS and other animals

DRAWING POLITICS and other animals

Steve Bell: Drawing Politics and other animals (October 8 – November 16) traces 12 key themes from Bell’s last 30 years as a leading political cartoonist including the Rise and Fall of Lady Thatcher and John Major, Tony Blair and New Labour, the War in Afghanistan, the War in Iraq as well as various US and UK elections, coming right upto date with his sketchbooks of characters from the recent US conventions.

At least 30 framed pictures, most of which started life as a sketch made by Bell sitting among the press corps at conferences and events, provide a back drop for showcases holding many of his A6 sketchbooks filled with initial sketches and observations. The visitor is taken from the small beginning and shown how the images develop into the finished artwork.

Best known for his long running If... series in the Guardian newspaper, the freelance cartoonist is famed for his cutting satire and ability to create iconic caricatures of leading politicians. Bell has famously depicted Tony Blair with a manic grin and one bulging eye, and John Major wearing his pants over his suit like some kind of awkward anti-hero.

“At first it can be tricky” says Bell, “but over the years you get a sense for what makes politicians tick and develop the characters you can work with. It’s very useful to see the politicians in the flesh. I usually stick with the photographers at party conferences and follow them round with my sketchbooks. You can sit almost looking up their noses and pick up the things that the camera misses.”

Not often seen in public, these sketch books are the highlight of The Lightbox exhibition. They reveal how Bell’s incredible draughtsmanship and observational skills often enable him to capture the spark of an enduring caricature from just a few pencil lines.

The sketch books will be accompanied by a selection of original cartoons from Bell’s vast personal archive. Working to reproduction size on card or watercolour paper, using John Heath's Telephone Pen (Fine), brush and Indian ink, he currently draws five If... strips and four editorial cartoons for the Guardian each week in his studio in Brighton. 

Steve Bell 'Drawing Politics and other animals' is in the Upper Gallery of The Lightbox from Wednesday October 8 until November 16, 2008. Entrance is free. Opening times are Tuesday – Saturday, 10.00am – 5.00pm and Sunday, 11.00am – 5.00pm. Visit for information.

Steve Bell's Guardian archive |


Further information

Sold Out - Artist's Talk: Steve Bell
21. October

The Ambassador Room.