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Culture, Art

Clive Goddard Illustrations

Oxfordshire Artweeks

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“Rather than being overtly political, they are poking fun at the news ”
Gallery cdi1zk

Oxford illustrator Clive Goddard wanted to be a cartoonist from his school days but was persuaded into a ‘proper job’. It wasn’t until his 40s that he took an art course and began drawing cartoons to send to magazines and newspapers in the hopes that they would publish one.

Incredibly, almost immediately Private Eye printed one, and on the strength of that – with a sharpened pencil and boundless optimism – Clive decided to become a freelance illustrator and cartoonist. He has never looked back: he is now the author-illustrator of a series of children’s books (Fintan Fedora the World’s Worst Explorer) and Chairman of the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation which champions cartooning as an art form. It’s great therefore to see cartoons lined up amongst paintings, sculpture and other art forms during the Oxfordshire Artweeks festival as Clive presents an exhibition of his work at The Gardener’s Arms on Oxford’s North Parade in May (Artweeks venue 449)

Harry and Meghan

Clive’s cartoons, which regularly appear in Private Eye and other magazines and newspapers, reflect what is going on in the world around us. Rather than being overtly political, they are poking fun at the news, society, and the moral and cultural climate in which we live. One of his current favourites (and the winner of The Mel Calman Award for Pocket Cartoon of the Year 2022) was drawn during Liz Truss’ brief spell as prime minister and alluded to the general disaster that the country found itself in.

“I used to be a real news junkie in the 1980s and 1990s, consuming every story I could find on every platform,” says Clive, “and it wasn’t healthy. News almost always makes you sad, angry or worried, so my cartoons are a reaction to that, a way of venting and yet also making light of a situation for both me and for the people who see them. Most of the cartoons are designed for a general audience but I also draw occasionally for more niche audiences. An old favourite of mine will only make sense to Bob Dylan fans (it references a famous heckle in Dylan’s history), whilst a series produced for greetings cards includes innuendo and swearing – I was surprised to discover that people’s card buying habits show that the smuttier the cartoon, the better the card sells.”

The Bob Dylan toothbrush

How much does Clive give away of himself in his cartoons?

Probably more that I realise. Generally my cartoons expose my politics and opinions. People assume you must share Rupert Murdoch’s political stance if your work is published in one of his newspapers but that isn’t necessarily the case. I was the stand-in cartoonist for The Sun for a period of time including the week that Margaret Thatcher died. The expectation was a cartoon that was positive about her legacy which didn’t necessarily align with what I really thought. Fortunately I managed to come up with an idea that worked for me and suited them and so I got away with it.

Prince Charles

Does Clive think cartoons could be used to sway public opinion?

There are times I would be very happy if I thought that my work could change people’s opinions for the better but I think people are very entrenched in their beliefs with self-perpetuating news feeds etc. That said, I often can’t second guess what cartoons [newspapers] will choose to publish. For example, The Sun has used several related to art history including one about German painter Albrecht Dürer which was unexpected – although it included a saucy inference - whilst The Spectator occasionally goes for something that’s simply daft.

How has life as a cartoonist changed over the last 20 years?

Outside the studio, with the growth of the internet, the number of publications that are in print and regularly publish cartoons has reduced and it is harder for young and emerging cartoonists to build a career in the traditional way. But technology brings its own advantages. At first, I worked in the traditional way with pen and ink and I have folders full of thousands of cartoons in the loft. Over the last ten years, however, I have worked digitally which not only leaves room in the house for people and furniture, but also with technology comes the ‘magical Undo button’ so that a slip of the pen can be instantly erased.

Picasso Eyes

Clive is running a one-hour long cartooning workshop for children and adults pitched at beginners with an interest in cartoons at The Gardener’s Arms, North Parade, Oxford at 12.30pm on Saturday 13 May. Paper and pencils will be provided. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

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