What does Brexit look like? Political cartoons are at the very forefront of crafting Brexit’s political imagination: giving shape and form to the fears and anxieties that colour a fast-moving and turbulent political landscape. Martin Rowson, political cartoonist for The Guardian newspaper, has chronicled British political life for over thirty years – from the days of Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May. Rowson has also been incredibly important in picturing Brexit as it unfolds: from depictions of May as a transparent ghost, Britain as a post-apocalyptic barren landscape, the government as a sinking ship, the cabinet falling off a cliff edge. These metaphors are at the heart of how the press, politicians and public conceptualise the Brexit process – alongside the images of slime, horror and abject mess that also characterise Rowson’s nightmarish visions. Eight days before Britain leaves the EU, Rowson will speak about capturing the spirit of our historical moment, to reflect on what it means to give an image to such turbulent times.
Martin Rowson is a political cartoonist for The Guardian. He read English Literature at Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he first began publishing cartoons and illustrations. After graduating he produced a cartoon series, Scenes from the Lives of the Great Socialists, for the New Statesman between 1982-83. He contributed to Financial Weekly from 1984-89 and Sunday Today from 1986-93. Rowson has also contributed to The Guardian since 1987, Time Out since 1990, Independent on Sunday from 1991-94, Independent Magazine from 1993-94, Daily Mirror since 1996, Daily Express since 1998, The Scotsman since 1998, and the Times Educational Supplement since 1998. In 2001 the Mayor of London appointed him Cartoonist Laureate for London. He has written a number of novels and graphic adaptations, including The Waste Land (1990) and Gulliver’s Travels (2012).