Tuesday 10 August 2010

Spitting Image - Thatcher!

Love her or hate her Margaret Thatcher was an iconic image and one that helped Spitting Image position itself as one of the most memorable shows in television history. Whilst visiting the Rude Britannia exhibition (and writing the blog post about it) got me thinking that even though it's been twenty years since she was removed that image of her and in particular the terrifying Spitting Image caricature still remains around today, and as popular as ever judging by the visitor interest in "her" at Rude Britannia.
There is a fascinating short interview on the Tate website with Roger Law, artist and co-creator, with Peter Fluck, of Spitting Image. In the interview Law discusses the Thatcher puppet and why he feels Spitting Image couldn't really come back with the same success it had in the 80's and early 90's. Interesting.

Law in the above interview mentions the various Spitting Image Thatchers there were. As part of my collection I have several Spitting Image puppets including Thatcher, mine is the one that Roger Law describes as "more sympathetic, your dog is dead" caricature, a version that they did in the early 90's.
Although Roger Law indicates he doesn't think Spitting Image will ever come back, aside from the political reasons he indicates the budget would also likely be prohibitive in TV these days, he has been convinced to bring together some of the original team for a few one off projects. The latest project was very reminiscent of Law's early days with Fluck when they were creating editorial images for the likes of the Sunday Times. The latest image depicts the main leaders in this years election (along with the ever present Mandelson) and was commissioned by the Radio Times. 
Hopefully this will be the first of more commissions in the future, although we have had a few impersonators, there hasn't been anything with the quality and cutting satire that Spitting Image had.

Rude Britannia

Recently got the chance to see the fantastic Rude Britannia exhibition at Tate Britain. It's on till September 5th and is wonderful opportunity to see the superb selection of comic art on display from Gillray to Scarfe. There is a selection of caricatures, original artwork and comic art such as the "naughty postcards" and the work of Beryl Cook and even Spitting Image's iconic Margaret Thatcher.
Gerald Scarfe was asked to create several new caricatures for the exhibition some of which are based on Gillray's work; such as his take on the 1797 Prime Minister William Pitt who Gillray depicted as the "giant factotum"
Scarfe decided that William Pitt's legs would make a brilliant entrance to a room so he set about creating an enormous version of this famous print.
There is a video interview on the Tate site with Gerald Scarfe discussing Gillray's work and the influence he had on the caricaturists who followed. Like Gillray, Scarfe will be on of those iconic artists that will be looked back on for centuries to come - a one off.

Rude Britannia runs till Sept 5th at Tate Britain - worth a visit.
Some more images from the exhibition;