Tag Archives: Dave Brown

Bojo of Arabia

The  controversy over Boris Johnson’s diplomatic gaffe at the Saudis expense rumbles on with people saying that he is not the right person to be Foreign Secretary. Others, however, argue that he is just saying what everyone else is thinking. But No. 10 Downing Street continue to distance themselves from his utterances saying he is not speaking for the Government. Should be an interesting weekend as Bojo is off to the Middle East.

Saturday 10th  December. The Independent – Dave Brown/John Edwin Noble


I think it is obvious what Mr. Brown’s interpretation of the situation is. Bojo being shat on from the camel that represents Theresa May whilst she carries King Salman of Saudi Arabia off – he  eagerly clutching a British made missile.

John Edwin Noble was not an artist I had previously been familiar with. After studying to be an artist he became an instructor at Calderon’s School of Animal Painting and a lecturer on animal drawing and anatomy at the Central and Camberwell Schools of Arts and Crafts. He served as a sergeant in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps during World War I, where he was employed as an official war artist, depicting horses and mules in charcoal and watercolour. He seems to have worked exclusively as an animal artist and his characteristically emphatic outline gives his work a strongly decorative quality and the artwork that the above cartoon is based on is a book illusratration.



John Edwin Noble, 1919 – Illustration from ‘Helpers Without Hands’ by Gladys Davidson

We shall see how this pans out!

Chris Walker.


The Great Day of their Wrath (at those pesky experts)

 Today I post Dave Brown’s re-intereptation of English Romantic painter, John Martin’s “The Great Day of His Wrath” with an overview of the story it represents.

Saturday 26th November. The Independent – Dave Brown/John Martin


It’s been a week where Chancellor Philip Hammond’s post-Brexit Autumn Statement was delivered to the nation. In it he confirmed he was abandoning plans to achieve a budget surplus by the end of the decade because the country is set to take a hit of almost £60 billion over the coming five years as a result of the referendum vote to leave the European Union.

  • Government finances forecast to be £122bn worse off in the period until 2021 than forecast in March’s Budget

  • Debt will rise from 84.2% of GDP last year to 87.3% this year, peaking at 90.2% in 2017-18

  • Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts borrowing of £68.2bn this year, then £59bn in 2017-18, £46.5bn in 2018-19, £21.9bn in 2019-20 and £20.7bn in 2020-21

  • Public spending this year to be 40% of GDP – down from 45% in 2010

  • OBR growth forecast upgraded to 2.1% in 2016 – from 2.0% – then downgraded to 1.4% in 2017, from 2.2%

  • Forecast growth of 1.7% in 2018, 2.1% in 2019 and 2020 and 2% in 2021.

  • Government no longer seeking a budget surplus in 2019-20 – committed to returning public finances to balance “as soon as practicable”

The Institute of Fiscal Studies and the Government’s own appointed Office of Budget Responsibility warned of tough times ahead and on the issue of poor wage growth, the IFS director, Paul Johnson said: “On these projections real wages will, remarkably, still be below their 2008 levels in 2021. One cannot stress enough how dreadful that is – more than a decade without real earnings growth. We have certainly not seen a period remotely like it in the last 70 years.”

He said the OBR’s forecasts, which predicted a £122bn budget black-hole, could have been even worse, adding: “the outlook for living standards and for the public finances has deteriorated pretty sharply over the last nine months.”

He said Mr Hammond’s promise to balance the books “as soon as possible” in the next parliament up to 2025 was “rather woolly”. But the Brexiteers (I prefer the term Brextremists) decried all the warnings from the experts and criticised them of being overly pessimistic and unfairly painting “another utter doom and gloom scenario” and being in the same category as “soothsayers and astrologers”. Another Brexit minister commented “These predictions are worthless.”

I do hope these Brextremists brush the sand from their hair when they finally get their heads out.


In Mr. Brown’s re-imagining we have Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and David Davis sticking their fingers in their ears, La-La-ing away whilst all around them comes tumbling down.



John Martin, 1851-1853 – Oil on Canvas, 197 cm × 303 cm, Tate Britain, London

I think Dave Brown has summed this week up perfectly

Chris Walker.

Bursting the Westminster Bubble?

Today we have a famous iconic image, controversial in its time, being reused by Dave Brown of the Independent to illustrate a topical political tableau.

I’ll start with the painting. It is a study of a child by Britain’s most famous Pre-Raphaelite artist, Sir John Everett Millais, and it subsequently became world famous when it was used over many generations in advertisements for Pear’s Soap. It was controversial during Millais’s lifetime as it led to a widespread debate about the relationship between art and advertising, something that Warhol many years later would turn back on its head.

Saturday 22nd November. The Independent – Dave Brown/John Everett Millais

The painting portrays a young golden-haired boy looking up at a bubble, symbolising the beauty and fragility of life. On one side of him (on the right hand side of the picture) you can just about make out a young plant growing in a pot, emblematic of life, and on the other is a fallen broken pot, emblematic of death. He is spot-lit against a gloomy background. The arrangement of the objects in the scene was based on 17th-century Dutch precursors in the tradition of vanitas imagery, which commented upon the transience of life. These sometimes depicted young boys blowing bubbles, typically set against skulls and other signs of death. (See here)



Sir John Everett Millais, 1886 – Oil on Canvas, Lady Lever Art Gallery, Port Sunlight, England.


The Thursday by-election in Rochester and Strood, caused by a second recent defector to UKIP from the Tories is over – and Mark Reckless, for UKIP, takes the seat. Speculation that other Tories are waiting to see the result before they decide to jump ship is rife. Brown cleverly uses a bubble modelled after Nigel Farage with a pin to prick Cameron’s puce-coloured condom head – popping his bubble – as Reckless sneers on. Poor Ed Miliband is once more depicted by Brown, not as a young plant, but as a dying red rose (Labour) symbolising the relentless pounding in the press he is taking as “not being up to the job”.

Chris Walker.

Deadheading the Rose?

Oh please save me from the right wing media’s promotion of a non-story to suit their agenda. They seem to be running shit scared of Ed Miliband and are using anything to undermine his position as leader of the Labour Party. Is it because they are afraid of a Labour Party in power, is it because Miliband stood up for Leveson and against the excesses of the press or is it because he can’t be manipulated so easily as Cameron? Take your pick.

Let me ask you a simple question:-

One leader of an organisation has more than 20 members openly saying to numerous news sources and internal cabals that he should go, other members are leaving and joining another organisation that is opposed to the one they came from, and there is open infighting about the organisation’s membership of a wider alliance.


A journalist is told by “two unamed sources” that another leader of another organisation is not up to the job.

Which of these seems to carry the most weight?

Anyway Dave Brown doesn’t let me down in his historic reference to a 17th century genre of still-life – Vanitas.

vanitas, (Latin , “vanity”)  A vanitas painting contains collections of objects symbolic of the inevitability of death and the transience and vanity of earthly achievements and pleasures; it exhorts the viewer to consider mortality and to repent. The vanitas evolved from simple pictures of skulls and other symbols of death and transience.’ (The Encyclopedia Britannica)

Saturday 8th November. The Independent – Dave Brown/Philippe de Champaigne


1280px-StillLifeWithASkullSTILL LIFE WITH SKULL.

Philippe de Champaigne, 1671 – Oil on Panel, 28 cm × 37 cm, Le musée de Tessé, Le Mans, France

A cold slab of stone, central and foreshortened, forms the base for Philippe de Champaigne’s still life. The painting is of the genre Vanitas, an image of earthly life’s worthlessness. There are three traditional representations of transience and doom.  The artist uses a cut tulip – for a brief life, an hourglass –  for time passing and a skull – for the inevitable.

Mr Brown changes the symbolism slightly. The red rose of Labour is dying, the hourglass is almost out of sand and the skull is hesitantly (mis)quoting Mark Twain’s famous rebuttal of newspaper reports. We shall see if the repeated character assasinations of Miliband the Younger by the rightwing mainstream media works in the six months up to the next general election.

Chris Walker.

The Ebola Tombola

Today not an Old Master, movie image or totemic icon but a re-worked image of a classical sculpture courtesy of Dave Brown in the Independent. Less political, more a commentary today.

Saturday 18 September. The Independent – Dave Brown/Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus.

President Barack Obama is being attacked by the Ebola virus whilst disease containment experts try to fight off the infection. It seems that safety measures to stop Ebola infecting the US have been inadequate or botched and Ebola has reached the country. The the fallout will harm an already stretched US administration. Whilst back in Ancient Greece…


Laocoön had begged the Trojans to set fire to the horse, that the Greeks had left, to ensure it was not a trick.  The Trojans ignored him and wheeled the great wooden Horse into the city. Laocoön did not give up trying to convince the Trojans to burn the horse, and Athena makes him pay. She sends two giant sea serpents to strangle and kill him and his two sons. In another version of the story, it was said that Poseidon sent the sea serpents to strangle and kill Laocoön and his two sons. The Greeks inside the horse take the City of Troy.

A twist to the imagery of the two subject matters is Laocoön was punished for essentially being right for arguing not to let the Trojan horse in and Obama argued against travel bans from West Africa after being wrongly advised by the Center for Disease Control about the dangers.



Attrib. Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus, between 27 BC and 68 AD – Marble, 208cm × 163cm x 112cm, Museo Pio-Clementino, Vatican Museums, Vatican City.

Chris Walker.

‘…but why would I want to do a thing like that?’

As well as political cartoonists reworking Old Masters for political comment sometimes iconic images from other media are used. Today (30th Sept 2014) two cartoonists use imagery from the cinema to illustrate the same political conference speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Tory Conference.

The Independent’s Dave Brown uses Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal whilst Steve Bell, at the Guardian, makes reference to Danny Boyle’s/Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.


Tuesday 30 September 2014. The Independent – Dave Brown


George Osborne, as the Grim Reaper, decides to slash tax on wealthy pensioners (another backdoor reduction in inheritance tax) whilst freezing ‘working-age’ welfare payments to the poorest, withdrawing it all together from 18-21 year-olds and promises further reductions in public sector pay. The irony being that the Reapers scythe is now aimed at the poor and the young rather than the rich and the old (positive Tory voter demographic) blatant and cynical sociopolitical engineering of the worst kind. More austerity for the poor, less austerity for the rich.



Director: Ingmar Bergman,  Writer: Ingmar Bergman (Play), Ingmar Bergman (Screenplay), Stars: Max von Sydow, Gunnar Björnstrand, Bengt Ekerot. Sweden, Black and White, 1957

Tuesday 30 September 2014. The Guardian – Steve Bell

Steve Bell 30.9.2014

 Steve Bell’s contribution is less visually obvious but after hearing Osborne spouting ‘Choose jobs, choose enterprise, choose security, choose prosperity, choose investment, choose fairness, choose freedom, choose David Cameron, choose the Conservatives, choose the future.’ the Trainspotting theme is obvious.

The cartoon depicts Osborne (as Renton – the film’s anti-hero) emerging from a toilet in a drug induced trip depicted in the film. Somebody wasn’t impressed though. The writer of Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh, responded on Twitter to the Chancellor’s reference to his words thus:-

‘Would rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare than that c*** Osbourne quote them on choice.’

 Again, ironically, if Osborne had read the whole of the quote from the film he would have noticed that he should have ended his speech:-

‘…choose David Cameron, choose the Conservatives, choose the future, but why would I want to do a thing like that?’ Priceless.


Director: Danny Boyle Writers: Irvine Welsh (novel), John Hodge (screenplay) Stars:
Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller. UK, Colour, 1996.

Chris Walker.

Cameron’s Nightmare.

I’d like to share my love of art-referential political cartoons. I find that the political cartoon  can be far more scathing of our “leaders” than some of the shoddy text-based journalism that we are currently experiencing in the mainstream media.

The cartoons that reference fine art are, I find, particularly clever and satisfying and with the current crop of cartoonists that we are lucky to see today (Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Dave Brown, Chris Riddell et al.) have the power to cut through the fog of political spin with this particular brand of editorial comment. When I have archived previous cartoons I found that I sometimes needed to precis the news article that it was referencing. Now I do this all the time.

So today I post Dave Brown’s re-intereptation of Henry Fusili’s “The Nightmare”  with an overview of the story it represents.

P.S. Brown often uses the Saturday edition of the Independent to ‘Misuse Masterpieces’ in his ‘Rogue’s Gallery’.

Saturday 30 August 2014. The Independent – Dave Brown/Henry Fusili.0830-cartoonProblems for Cameron as vocal backbencher, Douglas Carswell, defects from the Tory Party to UKIP, forcing an ill-timed by-election in Clacton. Carswell is depicted as the incubus sat on Cameron’s chest whilst a cigarette-smoking, UKIP leader Nigel Farage (as the horse’s head) looks on.



Henry Fusili, 1781 – Oil on Canvas, 101.6 cm × 127 cm, Detroit Institute of Arts, USA

Chris Walker.