Cartoon Paintings 2017
Refused to be Treated was done in the wake of brexit and the realisation that the NHS is heavily dependent on staff from EU counties.
Hospital Food exploits the stereotype that hospital food is bad.
Today you are Going to Meet was inspired by a doctor who told me he was an atheist; then informed me one of the patients was going to meeting Jesus that day. When I challenged him about this, he said that he could not help defaulting to the religion he was brought up in. It occurred to me that in our multicultural society that there could be quite a wide variety of options for the dying man that day. The red represents a bloodstain on a bed sheet. It covers the figures of the doctor and patient, as the immanent death of the patient seemed to create a bond between the two.
Ward Performance came from my observation that all wards had their performance charts on the wall where patients could view them. I thought that this could be unnerving for some patients. The yellow paint enhances the effect creating the appearance a crumpled sheet, soiled by bodily fluids.
Waiting for the spreadsheet to open is a reflection on the slow IT systems within the NHS. Lists of patients are kept on large spreadsheets and it occurred to me that patients could die in the time it took the spreadsheet to open. This piece also reflects a is universal theme that we all seem to waste a lot our time waiting for IT systems to work.
Happy Families challenges the myth that all families should be perfect and happy. It leads those that don’t have a perfect family to feel inadequate. It is an example of the increasing pressures that people are under in all aspect of life these days.
Background to Cartoon Paintings
I have been a cartoonist since the 1980’s along side my fine art practice. I had kept these two practices separate considering the cartoons to be commercial; using income from newspapers and magazines to subsidies my fine art in publications ad diverse as The sun and New Humanist magazine. I used a different name of Judy Walker for this work not because I considered this work to be inferior, just separate and different.
In 2015 I took part in a cartoonist in residence program at UCL Hospital, which transformed the way I regarded my cartoon practice. I produced cartoons inspired by various visits to UCL including meetings with consultants and shadowing a doctor. These cartoons were not intended for publication but to be exhibited within UCL. I also exhibited these cartoons separately and sell prints of them.
The cartoons that came out of this residency tended to be on the dark side. I was creating black humour in an environment where if people did not laugh they would cry. Staff were extremely busy and working under enormous pressure. But there was an enormous amount of humanity and humour displayed by them and felt by the patients.
This experience led me to expand my cartoon practice to draw cartoons on large canvases, rather than limiting them to A4 sheets of paper. I started experimenting with drawing cartoons on stretched, primed canvas. I used charcoal as drawing medium, which allowed me to create large, loose drawings. These resembled the rough cartoons that I draw in pencil, on paper; before inking them in. The rough expressive quality of these lines on the textured canvas produced an interesting quality in the detail of the drawing, as well a creating an impressive, dynamic image. I added colour spot colour, often used in cartoons. These works included Refused to be Treated and Hospital Food, which even though they were in non-traditional carton media still maintained the conventional cartoon format, reminiscent of my published cartoons.
I then decided to dispense with the stretched, primed canvas and just use pieces of raw canvas that were just roughly torn with frayed edges. This increased the spontaneity and immediacy of the images. During the creation of these pieces I started to view them as three-dimensional objects, rather than just a flat surface. As a result I started put latex on the canvas and created creases and folds in the cloth as I had done with my fine art piece Rubber Curtain. This idea of creating a crumpled creased look was also influenced by the NHS theme. I wished to give an impression that the cartoons were drawn on creased stained hospital bed sheets adding to their dystopian effect. Reflecting my observations on overstretched staff and news reports of the lack of funding in the NHS. I then again added colour but in a much more spontaneously, abstract way using my figures to smear the paint on the canvas together with spray paint.