PICTURE SPECIAL: Cartoonist’s exhibition is a big draw

CARTOONIST Peter Leech has re-created famous scenes in his own unique drawing style.

From the Jarrow Crusade to the Great North Run and Roman gladiators fighting in the Colosseum, Peter’s cartoons offer a unique perspective on historical events.

IN THE PICTURE ... cartoonist Peter Leech's exhibition at South Shields Museum, including some of his Whatever Next jigsaws.

IN THE PICTURE ... cartoonist Peter Leech's exhibition at South Shields Museum, including some of his Whatever Next jigsaws.

The 72-year-old’s artwork is on display at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, in the town’s Ocean Road, until September.

Peter, who lives on the Holder House estate, in South Shields, said: “I’ve always been artistic, but I’ve only been cartooning now for about 10 years.

“I’m one of those people who has ants in my pants – I just can’t sit still, I’ve always got to be doing something.

“I’ve got a benign tremor in my hands and they shake terribly now. I used to do a lot of crafting and sculpting, but I can’t do that any more, but found that I could still draw.

“I draw just about anything and enjoy doing topical cartoons, and enjoy doing anything naval.

“Someone counted the heads on my Great North Run cartoon and apparently there are around 3,000, but of course the ones right at the back are just dots. It did take a while though.

“I’ve drawn a lot of scenes in South Shields as well, but they were some of my earliest cartoons and they weren’t the best, so I’ve left them out of the exhibition.”

Peter was born in London and lived there until his late teens, when he joined the Merchant Navy as an engine room boy.

He met his wife, Sylvia, after he joined Readheads shipyard, in South Shields, and the couple, who have two children and three grandchildren, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

Peter also lived in Pennywell, Sunderland, for a short while, when he joined the Sunderland Borough Police.

He retired from the force in 1993 and has since spent his time developing his art and craft abilities.

Peter has also created a series of jigsaws with a twist, in that the picture on the box is not the finished picture on the puzzle.

The finished puzzle scene has moved on from the one on the box with chaotic consequences. He calls them the Whatever Next jigsaws.

He said: “I liked the idea of those Wasgij puzzles, where the picture you’re making isn’t the same as what’s on the box, so I came up with my own version of them.

“Seeing my cartoons in an exhibition is very exciting. I’ve had artist exhibitions before with my wife, who is a watercolourist, but this is my first one that is just cartoons.

“It’s lovely to see them up on the walls, and I’ve had a lot of lovely comments from the people who have seen them so far.

“Hopefully this won’t be my last exhibition.”

Peter’s 500-piece jigsaws are on sale in the museum shop for £14 each.

The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday, 11am to 4pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Admission is free.

Twitter: @shieldsgazvicki