I suppose the greatest honour ever bestowed upon me was when I was appearing in a play in the early 90’s. William (Bill) Hewison who had taken over from Searle was then the chief caricaturist for Punch, and when he came to illustrate the play drew me in my own style, which was hugely different from his. I suppose it was then that I realized I had arrived!
Over the years I’ve been fortunate in having had three very successful exhibitions at the National Theatre and a number of my theatrical illustrations of John Gielgud now hang in the Gielgud Theatre, in London’s West End, as do those of Noël Coward in the Coward Theatre. I’ve illustrated a number of biography’s and produced four books of my own- of which a number are included here.
Caricature in a way is rather akin to plastic surgery. As bits are taken away so bits are added, the only difference being that the caricaturist reveals mercilessly, warts, tucks and all. Someone once described my work as bold and sympathetic. Bold I can understand, because that signifies an economy of line – not always easily accomplished, simplicity being by far the most complex equation to unravel. But sympathetic! That seems to evoke a note of compassion, a degree of sympathy towards my subject as though I felt sorry for them for looking the way they do. Which is certainly not the case.
In all seriousness, I would define my work as tongue in cheek portraiture. While Scarfe attacks with a machete I go at with a blunt penknife, and I can’t be fairer than that.
Details of Clive’s acting career and his current performances can be found at www.actorclivefrancis.com