Beds, Herts & Bucks

Bedford project delivers cartoon fantasy election pledges

Bedford Voices poster Image copyright Bedford Creative Arts
Image caption Cartoonist Patrick Blower said his Muslim woman image highlights misconceptions of image

Cartoons depicting community groups' fantasy election pledges have appeared on billboards across Bedford.

The Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) project used artists, a political cartoonist and an advertising agency to help the organisations deliver their messages.

Slogans include "Britain's Forgotten Army" from Carers in Bedfordshire and "I'm a mother not an extremist" from the The Multi-Heritage Organisation.

The BCA said it would "give a voice" to those who "may not always be heard".

Image copyright Bedford Creative Arts
Image caption TransBedford's image highlights an ongoing lack of education on the issue of transgender
Image copyright Bedford Creative Arts
Image caption Men's support group The Shed is where men can "chat through life’s various challenges"

Royal College of Art graduates Dash MacDonald and Demetrios Kargotis researched political posters and satirical cartoons to help eight groups develop their ideal messages for the Bedford Voices project ahead of May's General Election.

Advertising agency McGarryBowen provided expertise on writing slogans while cartoonist Patrick Blower turned them into "something that really works on a billboard".

'Powerful questions'

Kevin Chesters from McGarryBowen, said: "Right now, all the [political] campaigns seem to be focused on what politicians want to say rather than what people want to hear.

"This was helping turn the wishes of people in a town like Bedford, essentially the UK Election in microcosm, into simple, powerful messages.

Image copyright Bedford Creative Arts
Image caption A girl with cerebral palsy shouts to Westminster through a rolled-up ballot paper megaphone

"The people have spoken so let's hope the candidates are listening. For their sake."

BCA Chief Executive Dawn Giles said: "This commission has given the opportunity to explore, discuss and co-produce people's policies as an artwork.... posing powerful questions and thought-provoking messages that should get people talking and engaging."

Patrick Blower called the project an "exciting challenge" at a time when "the power of political cartoons is highly topical following the Charlie Hebdo affair".

Bedford Voices runs until 12 April.

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