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Pink Floyd cartoonist Gerald Scarfe on “setting a public mood” in latest Tate podcast


Gerald Scarfe: The Wall artwork for Pink Floyd, 1979

Illustrator Gerald Scarfe, known as much for his political cartoons as his renowned artwork on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall, has spoken to Dolly Alderton for the latest episode of Tate’s debut podcast Walks of Art. The series launched last week with the first episode hosted by Grace Dent, who interviewed Tracey Emin, Sarah Lucas and Rachel Whiteread about east London in the 90s.

This week’s episode explores the influence of the Thames in art and cartoons, featuring an interview with Gerald about how creative interpretation can sway public opinion. “My job as a cartoonist is to make a simple picture of a conversation, encapsulate it. If it works, it does transmit the feeling of what I’m trying to say, and the feeling of that time.

“A lot of artists have lived along the Thames, and they had romantic ideas. It sets a mood, a piece of art, whether it actually affects anything or not. Although I’ve practiced it for over 50 years, I’m not sure I’ve changed anything. People do say I’ve set a mood or awareness of something. Pictures do set a mood in the public mind.”

Gerald also created caricatures for the opening and closing sequences of TV series Yes, Minister; was lead character designer on the Disney film Hercules; and illustrated a series of stamps for Royal Mail honouring British comedians.

The episode, out today, also features interviews with Tate Britain assistant curator Caroline Corbeau-Parson about Monet’s time in London, and curator Carol Jacobi about the work of British painter Walter Greaves.

Listen to a clip below, listen here or subscribe here.


Claude Monet: Houses of Parliament, Sunset (1904)
Courtesy Kaiser Wilhelm Museum