Cartoonists assemble in Herne Bay to celebrate the life of Dadaist Marcel DuChamp

Live Carttonists at Herne Bay

© Hunt Emerson @

Following Ralph Steadman’s lead, the cream of Britain’s cartoonists and illustrators will be in Herne Bay on Saturday 3rd August to celebrate the Marcel Duchamp Centenary Festival.

Marcel Duchamp was a French-American painter, sculptor and writer whose work is associated with Dadaism and conceptual art. He’s commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, as one of the three artists who helped to define the revolutionary developments in the plastic arts in the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

He visited Herne Bay as chaperone to his younger sister, Yvonne, who was 17 and there to study English. She attended classes at Lynton College, Downs Park, a private college for international students and the children of British ex-patriots.

Duchamp also stayed at Lynton College as he gave this as his address for the summer and a blue plaque will be unveiled on the building during the Festival.

Whilst Yvonne was studying, Duchamp explored everything Herne Bay had to offer visitors. He also wrote postcards to his friends and played a lot of tennis. More importantly, he had time to stop and reflect.

“It may be too much to claim that this was the turning point, but it is certain that 1913 was a pivotal moment in Duchamp’s life as an artist,” say the Festival’s organisers. “When he returned to Paris, after his summer by the sea, he produced work of an entirely new kind. He published his ideas on objets trouvés or ‘readymades’ and produced 3 Standard Stoppages and Bicycle Wheel. In Herne Bay, Duchamp was already making notes towards what would become his most important work, The Large Glass, also known as The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even.”

Famously, Duchamp always preferred “lines” to “painting” which is why some cartoonists claim they are the “true heirs” of the Duchamp legacy.

A host of cartoonists from the Guardian, the Independent, The Times, the Financial Times, Private Eye, The Spectator, The Beano, Dandy and Viz are going to set up in the Bandstand on Herne Bay seafront to demonstrate their craft in action, producing on-the-spot cartoons about Marcel Duchamp, Herne Bay and anything else that takes their fancy. Throughout the afternoon, the professional cartoonists will be accompanied by acoustic music in the Bandstand.

The partial line-up of cartoonists at the event is as follows: Andrew Birch, Andy Davey, Bill Stott, Cathy Simpson, Chris Burke, Chris Madden, Hunt Emerson, Ian Baker, Steve Jones, Martin Honeysett, Mike Turner, Noel Ford, Pete Dredge, Royston Robertson, Rupert Besley, The Surreal McCoy, Steve Bell, Tim HarriesAlex Matthews, Colin Whittock, Dave Brown, Gary Northfield, Grizelda Grizlingham, Jeremy Banks, Jonathan Cusick, Kipper Williams, Matt Buck, Matt Pritchett, Nathan Ariss, Richard “RGJ” Jolley, Rob Murray, Roger Penwill, Simon Pearsall, Steve Way, Tim Sanders, Tony Husband, and Wilbur Dawbarn.

This will be followed by the formal grand opening of Cartoons in Pubs sponsored by brewery Shepherd Neame, providing a trail of original prints around the town, including exclusive Young British Artists strips by Andrew Birch which will be displayed next to readymade Marcel Duchamp style “Fountains” in up to 40 local lavatories.

In addition, there will be a gallery exhibiting the cartoonists’ work for a fortnight; and originals and signed prints will be available for purchase at the festival shop in Mortimer Street.

Organised by the UK ProCartoonists organisation, Chair, Nathan Ariss said: “British cartoon art has a great history, boasting an impressive pool of talent like Steve Bell, Martin Rowson, Kipper Williams and Matt. Many of our members were inspired by Marcel Duchamp, so the opportunity to take part in the festival seemed like too good an opportunity to miss.”

Certainly, putting cartoons in pubs captures the spirit of the festival. It’s fun, inclusive and enabling, with something for everyone whatever your taste in art or jokes.

Festival Spokesperson, Steve Coombes added: “These cartoonists are truly amazing and their work combines exceptional drawing skills with absurd and unique views of the world. But just like Marcel Duchamp himself, these artists are funny – really funny. So their participation is like finding the missing piece of a jigsaw.”

• More information: or track what’s planned on the ProCartoonist fantastic web site via this tag

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