‘Education’ cartoonist Greg Gaul’s works to feature in exhibition

Federation’s resident illustrator Greg Gaul has had a lifelong love of drawing and sketching and his works are set to feature in a retrospective exhibition at an inner Sydney gallery.

Owner of The Corner Gallery Stanmore, Philip Bell, decided to celebrate his good friend Greg’s 40-year career by working with him to curate a representative selection of his cartoons.

“I am sure this exhibition would be of interest to many teachers who have admired and chuckled at Greg’s creations over the years,” Mr Bell said.

“Few Australian cartoonists/illustrators are as widely seen as he has been, principally through Federation’s publications.”

Greg first featured the Federation journal Education in 1977 after finishing his Leaving Certificate to work at the Water Board while studying drafting at Ultimo TAFE (in between a good dose of surfing near his Coogee Beach home at the time).

“I was passionate about drawing and sketching all of my younger years,” Greg said, who cites Emile Mercier — a cartoonist for Sydney’s The Sun from 1949 until his retirement in 1968 — as his favourite influence.

Back then there was no readily available internet or email. “I would make the journey from home in the Blue Mountains to the Sussex Street offices to be briefed about subjects for the illustrations, return home and draw, before heading back to town with the work.”

The exhibition, from 4-8 April at the Corner Gallery in Stanmore, will follow his career chronologically and will include timelines of events and campaigns that shaped public education at the time.

“The favourite cartoons of mine are John Howard saying ‘Sorry’ to Indigenous kids while taking away Abstudy and a cartoon of kids on Manus Island listening to Australian primary kids singing ‘we’ve boundless plains to share’ from the national anthem,” Greg said.

Little known is that he also has degree in archaeology from the University of New England.

“I have researched the Gundungurra and Daruk people who have been living in the Blue

Mountains over many thousands of years,” he said.

He has illustrated for unions, including Federation, the Independent Education Union, the Tenants Union, Fred Hollows Foundation, book illustrations for McGraw Hill and Federation Press, as well as technical drawings and graphics for various clients, such as Blue Mountains Council.

“I’m still drawing for various mobs … but mostly semi-retired now,” he said.

Greg’s works will be on sale during the exhibition as limited edition prints.

“The gallery has hosted a similar exhibition of Bruce Petty’s cartoons and it was very successful,” owner Mr Bell said.

“I look forward to cooperating with Federation to shine a spotlight on Greg, who, you will know, is a modest bloke and may need to be coaxed to centre stage even for such a brief period.”

— Scott Coomber