Advertisement - Content continues below
Art

A clash of cartoons and racism brings Robyn Ward’s work to gritty life

Cosy childhood nostalgia uncomfortably meets with racism and politics in his new series

At first glance, his visuals bring to life the childhood nostalgia and innocence of an era long gone; Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird and Bugs Bunny up to their usual antics during a time of hope and growth for the Western world.

But stepping closer and looking deeper, Irish painter Robyn Ward’s latest exhibition jumps with a darker message, uneasily juxtaposing with the veneer of cosy youth. Subverted by their actions, nodding to time of drug culture, racism, politics, and sex, the protagonists want us to see something deeper.

The title for Ward’s latest works, Once Upon A Time, has a dual meaning, he says. The viewer is first drawn in by the original context in which we experienced these animated characters, but they’re also surrounded by the signs and messages of a period of extreme hatred, bigotry, and racism. “No blacks, no dogs, no Irish,” reads the picket sign held by Bugs Bunny in one such piece.

For Ward, a self-taught Irish painter who grew up on the streets of Belfast immersed in graffiti work, Once Upon A Time is a celebration of mixed media on canvas using oils, acrylics, spray paint and inks – literally giving fraught contrast to the characters in his work and the messages behind them.

Once Upon a Time was exhibited in London’s HOFA Gallery from May 10 to May 13. Visit robynwardart.com for information on the artist and his work.

Images: Robyn Ward

Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below
Advertisement - Content continues below

Support us today

Over the last 30 years, your contributions have been vital in providing opportunities for those facing poverty by giving them a hand up, not a hand out. Support us to help thousands more. Buy a copy from your local vendor, donate or subscribe online today.

Recommended for you

Read All
Get your entries in for The Big Issue's Christmas Kids Cover Competition
Art

Get your entries in for The Big Issue's Christmas Kids Cover Competition

Exclusive: David Lloyd's unseen drafts of iconic V for Vendetta mask
Art

Exclusive: David Lloyd's unseen drafts of iconic V for Vendetta mask

Filmmaker Paul Sng: 'My new book shows diversity can make Britain stronger'
Art

Filmmaker Paul Sng: 'My new book shows diversity can make Britain stronger'

Get a limited edition print and original artwork from The Connor Brothers
Art

Get a limited edition print and original artwork from The Connor Brothers

Most Popular

Read All
'What kidnappers do' - DWP forcing universal credit claimants to pose for photo with daily paper
1.

'What kidnappers do' - DWP forcing universal credit claimants to pose for photo with daily paper

The problems with BT's £50m 888 app to protect women on their way home
2.

The problems with BT's £50m 888 app to protect women on their way home

Why England's rivers are so polluted and will be for years to come
3.

Why England's rivers are so polluted and will be for years to come

Universal credit: What is it and why does the £20 cut matter?
4.

Universal credit: What is it and why does the £20 cut matter?