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Symposium examines power of the artist’s ‘pointed pen’

Symposium examines power of the artist’s ‘pointed pen’

The significance and power of the artist’s ‘pointed pen’ falls under the spotlight next month at a symposium entitled Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera?

The one-day event at the University of Auckland will bring together both local and international experts and enthusiasts, to discuss the place of cartoons, comics and caricatures as an artistic medium. It will also look at the genre’s significance as historical evidence of specific time, people and place.

Cartoons typically refer to a style of drawing intended for satire or humour and the symposium’s speakers will address a wide range of issues from the function and analysis of cartoons to their ability to reveal the prevailing attitudes of the day. There will also be a panel focused on the medium of comics.

The keynote speaker is New Zealand-born Alan Moir, who is the editorial cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald. The winner of numerous awards, his work is syndicated worldwide by the New York Times, and extensively held in major public and private collections. In his opening lecture The Pointed Pen he will discuss his profession, how political cartooning is at the heart of freedom of the press, and why some cartoons carry so much power and the ability to comment on the vital issues of the day.

Other speakers include:
Paul Diamond (Curator, Maori, Alexander Turnbull Library): Representations of Māori and Māori cultural motifs in cartoons 1930 to 1990.
Paul’s lecture will discuss the changing portrayal of Māori in cartoons.

Ian F. Grant (Founder of the NZ Cartoon Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library and cartoon historian): Cartoons that don’t paint a pretty picture.
Ian’s lecture will examine over a 100 years of cartoons in New Zealand, to reveal the high level of racism that was operating during this time.

Melinda Johnston (Research Librarian Cartoons, Alexander Turnbull Library): An introduction to reading cartoons.
Melinda will discuss how to contextualise works for future readers, how to understand what is happening in a cartoon and grasp the point the cartoonist is trying to make.

Aleisha Ward (School of Music, University of Auckland): No use crying over spilt pianos: The 1950s jazz concerts and the grand piano controversy.
Aleisha will discuss the fuss that occurred when the Auckland City Council banned jazz musicians from using a newly purchased Steinway grand piano - illustrated by cartoons from the time.

The panel on comics will feature:
Aiden Ranford: Distancing comics from storyboarding.

Senior Lecturer Sondra Bacharach (Philosophy, Victoria University): Learning from images: The ethics of representing women in comics and cartoons.

Associate Professor Neal Curtis (Film, Television and Media Studies, University of Auckland): Time frames: Picturing past and present in comics.

Cartoons, Comics and Caricatures: Evidence or Ephemera?
Saturday 3 May (9am-5pm)
Music Theatre
School of Music
6 Symonds Street
University of Auckland

Admission is free. Places are limited. Please RSVP to Dr Nancy November,

Proudly supported by the Cartoon Archive, Alexander Turnbull Library.
For more information visit


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