Irish News cartoonist Ian Knox was last night praised for his "gift of finding the perfect illustration" as an exhibition showcasing decades of his life's work was launched in Belfast. His "original way of seeing things" has seen him produce works of art spanning several decades and last night his drawings went on show in a rare solo exhibition. From newspaper cartoons to material featured on TV, as well as book and magazine illustrations, a wide variety of his original work is on display for the first time.
The 'Lifelines and Deadlines' exhibition opened at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast last night and was attended by a host of artists, journalists and politicians. The month-long exhibition showcases the 70-year-old's award-winning work, spanning several decades.
The work on show features originals from his socio-political cartoons for The Irish News.
He first began drawing for the newspaper in 1989 and much of his work for The Irish News is on show, with everything from his political satire cartoons to illustrating the big news and current affairs of the day.
There are black-and-white cartoons on show as well as colour creations showcasing the time he had spent dedicated to his drawing. His material from the 'If You Ask Me' slot on BBC2's award-winning Hearts and Minds programme is also included in the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition will also be able to see his cartoons from Sky News, Channel 4 News, BBC2 and Newsnight.
The Belfast man, who was the original artist on the hugely popular Pongalongapongo strip, describes his work as "an entertaining visual reminder of our own unique dysfunctional part of an even greater dysfunctional world". He trained as an architect at Edinburgh College of Art and He-riot-Watt University in the 1960s and worked as an architect before establishing himself as a cartoon-ist.
During the 1970s he worked in animation in London and in Canada. He then joined Red Weekly and Socialist Challenge as a political cartoonist, as well as contributing to various children's comics for IPC comics from 1975 to 1980. Mr Knox said there was "a lot to see" at the exhibition.
"It is with a certain amount of trepidation, but I hope it people will enjoy it," he said.
Irish News columnist Fionnuala O Connor spoke at the exhibition launch and praised Mr Knox for his artistic contributions. "Ian is prized by many for his good jokes, very funny images that come out of an original way of seeing things," she said.
"His best caricatures are lasting memorials to the daftness and two-facedness of political figures. But he also has the gift of finding the perfect illustration for sadness and major moments, in drawings that catch likenesses with a selflessness rare enough among the very talented. That range of skills is under-pinned by strength of character - stubbornness, some might say, the other side of his originality, fidelity to his own version of politics. He makes editors chew their nails, but they must know we are lucky to have him."The Lifelines and Deadlines exhibition runs until January 11 (Monday to Saturday) from 10am to 6pm.
Fionnualla O'Connor made an address, She noted "How old tech they [the cartoons] are." She thanked Fiona McGarry who works at the Irish News and looks after Ian Knox. She said that rising to big moments is something all journalists aspire, and that Ian has always risen to the occasion. She concluded by saying that "may Ian live forever because there's no one who can do that [farewell cartoon like the one he did for Rowel Friers] for Ian."
Ian then spoke, saying that he lived a very "sheltered life" and that he "felt like a rabbit in a spot of very benevolent headlights." He then said, "I will continue to be very insulting."
Tim McGarry then spoke, saying that Ian drew "everything you wanted to know about Northern Ireland but were too terrorized to ask." Cracked the joke that "Your work is so good it even makes people want to buy the Irish news."
Click below to see a selection of images from the night and a sample of the work on show: