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  • Oliver Hodgson

Renowned illustrator finds humour in Whitehaven’s history

RENOWNED illustrator Susannah Harbach is inviting people to get involved in documenting Whitehaven’s history with a humorous twist.

Ms Harbach is based at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, until December 7, as part of its feature exhibition ‘The Golden age of satire?’

Visitors to the museum will be able to try their hand at their own satirical sketching under the watchful eye of Ms Harbach, and younger visitors can also paint and colour in illustrations in the same way as the original artists would have done.

From the stories of Whitehaven’s origins to the Georgian harbour and the heyday of mining, all will be made objects of fun, whilst seeking to present a balanced and informative account of the region’s history.

Ms Harbach is a well-regarded illustrator, and formerly an arts graduate of the University of Cumbria. Having moved from her native Armenia many years ago, she now lives in Carlisle, she said:

“I am delighted to be an illustrator in residence at The Beacon Museum for the exhibition of Georgian satirical prints, on loan from the British Museum.

“While looking through some old satirical prints, I was strongly reminded of their function, and what a mighty weapon they can be!

“It is easy to understand why illustrated satire was often disliked by many powerful people throughout history, as they found themselves to be targets of satire.

“If you are interested in the methods with which Georgian satirical prints where created, the examples of modern-day etching plates and prints will be available to view and touch. Surprisingly the technique hasn’t changed much since.”

Elizabeth Kwasnik, Director of the Beacon Museum, said: “Susanna is a brilliant and imaginative illustrator with an eye for human stories depicted in mesmerizing surroundings.

“We hope that she will provide a new way for our visitors to interpret and understand both prominent and lesser-known episodes from our past.

“People often think that museums are a bit dry and don’t offer much in the way of laughs, and we want to prove those mind-sets wrong.

“This project is entitled Satire in Motion, and as the title suggests, it will be displayed in an innovative moving display once completed.

“The intention is that it will become a permanent piece of Whitehaven’s ongoing history, and we hope that in a few hundred years it will be looked upon as we do now with this satire exhibition.”

Open workshops will be on offer between 11am and 3pm until December 7. All activities are free with admission to the Beacon Museum, and Copeland residents can currently enter for free by using the Copeland Pass.

For further information, visit or visit the museum’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

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