Welcome to a new series of monthly Director’s blogs by Joe Sullivan, bringing you behind the scenes to explore what the museum team are getting up to.
Although we are still closed, it’s been a busy month at The Cartoon Museum, with staff returning to site to recommence work on two exciting new exhibitions. It has been a hard return for the team, with a huge gap left by the passing of Alison Brown, our much-missed Front of House Manager. Her funeral, held in March with social distancing requirements, was a sad but fitting tribute; soundtracked by a classic Billy Bragg tune and full of heartfelt stories and tributes shared by those in attendance, including our own Steve Marchant, Martin Rowson and Mark Stafford.
Staff were able to come back to work thanks to a significant grant of £96,000 by Arts Council England and DCMS as part of the Cultural Recovery Fund. On our return, work immediately began where it left off on two hugely exciting upcoming exhibitions. One remains a secret for now, but I can talk about a significant In-Focus exhibition that explores the work of Natasha Natarajan, a British-Indian web cartoonist and animator, who draws honest, thought-provoking cartoons about her place in the world. The museum has never featured web cartoons before, and we are delighted to be working with Natasha to introduce her unique worldview to our visitors. The exhibit will incorporate original artwork alongside animation, all designed in partnership with Natasha.
Excitement with exhibitions aside, the most immediate benefit to being back on the museum site is that it meant we were able to package up all the shop orders we received during our closure, as well as a well-earned goody bag for Erin Pickard, winner of our January #DrawTheInauguration competition! We are now up-to-date with all our orders, so a huge thank you for your patience if you have been waiting for an order to arrive! We recently relaunched our webshop, with a more user-friendly experience and many more items to browse.
During the Easter half-term we ran online workshops for the first time. Our Learning Officer, Steve, taught children how to draw Beano characters, create their own superheroes, and learn to draw Manga-style artwork. With the success of the workshop we will be running them again during the June half-term. Children can also keep their pen-hand active with the free cartooning resources on our website.
That’s enough for now, as the hard work continues ready for reopening – I look forward to seeing you all soon on the 18th May!