'Emotional Need', Adam Lewis Jacob with works by Donald Rooum 

27 May 2017 – 2 Jul 2017

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Collective Gallery

Edinburgh, United Kingdom


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'Emotional Need' explores the life and work of anarchist cartoonist Donald Rooum, who has been involved in political organising, publishing and comic illustration since the late-1940s.


Collective presents Emotional Need, a new exhibition and film by Glasgow-based artist Adam Lewis Jacob with works by cartoonist Donald Rooum.  

Emotional Need explores the life and work of anarchist cartoonist Donald Rooum, who has been involved in political organising, publishing and comic illustration since the late-1940s. Donald’s commitment to anarchist politics and humorous drawings are the catalyst for a new film and soft-sculpture exhibited alongside a selection of Donald’s original drawings and ephemera related to his famous Wildcat Comics series. This long-running political satire published by Freedom Press, features a small cast of characters centred around the short-tempered anarchist Wildcat and an intellectual bird called Free-range Egg Head, who take on familiar targets such as bosses, government officials, the monarchy and police.

Over six months, Adam filmed a collection of informal interviews with Donald, which together with his cartoons, form the basis for a new film work. Adam constructs films rhythmically as a series of collage-like fragments. In Emotional Need, observational scenes of Donald drawing and talking about the development of Wildcat are combined with performed extracts of his writing, animated cartoons that point to the changing vocabulary and internal struggles within the anarchist movement, and staged encounters in various locations including Freedom Press. Adam has collaborated with friends and peers to develop a soft toy, animations and musical interruptions that disrupt the interview format, while using the camera to listen to Donald’s experiences. The overlapping of comparatively different scenes and visual frictions builds on an interest in how the form of a film can embody its subject matter.

The new film is shown with a selection of Donald’s own drawings from his personal archive and a soft-sculpture made by Adam from a patchwork of fabrics. Cartoonish and architectural, the sculpture is covered in a surplus of images, patches, stickers, newspaper clippings, and extracts of research relating to Donald’s life. These materials extend from Adam’s interest in DIY culture, fanzines and adolescent rebellion as a formative process in which teenagers’ appropriate symbols and customise clothes, disrupting and partaking in collective identities. 

Adam Lewis Jacob graduated from the MFA programme at the Glasgow School of Art in 2015 and primarily works in video, animation and installation. He studied at Piet Zwart Institute in 2015 and in 2011 was selected to take part in the Mountain School of Arts program in Los Angeles. In 2016, Adam was the recipient of the Superlux research award alongside Elizabeth Murphy. Recent exhibitions include: Double Parrhesia, Catalyst, Belfast and FFWD, Duolon Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, as part of CURRENT: Contemporary Art from Scotland. Adam is co-founder of the artist-run exhibition space Celine and a recent committee member at Transmission. Emotional Need has been commissioned by Collective as part of Satellites Programme 2017.  

Donald Rooum was born in 1928 and became an anarchist in 1944. He has contributed to the anarchist paper Freedom since 1947 and his cartoons have appeared in The Syndicalist, Private Eye and Peace News. He has written and illustrated several books, including What is Anarchism?. The comic series Wildcat has been published by Freedom Press since the 1980s and his work is held in the British Cartoon Archives.

Exhibiting artists

Donald Rooum

Adam Lewis Jacob


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