Cartoon museum for country that invented the artform

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The Independent Online

A ten-year campaign spearheaded by the former home secretary, Lord Baker has at last raised the requisite funding to secure a building in Bloomsbury, to house the Cartoon Art Trust's million-pound collection, which includes political cartoons from the 18th century as well as modern work and comic strips.

"We had a temporary home last year, which welcomed more than 12,000 visitors," says the Trust's chairman, Oliver Preston, at the launch of his book, Shall We Join The Men? "But we have been until now the only major European country without a national cartoon museum, which is ridiculous when you consider that this is the country that invented the cartoon. All that is left now is to finalise our agreement with the developers of the site, and to sign on the dotted line".

Although Preston and Baker are keen to keep the identities of their major backers secret for the time being, these are understood to include families who provide funding for the other major national art galleries, suggesting the involvement of the Getty, Sainsbury and Heinz families.

"We're chuffed," said Lord Baker yesterday. "Cartoons are an under-appreciated art form and it's been a long, hard slog. We've still had no offer of help from the lottery or any form of government, which has been extremely disappointing."

* The broadcaster Anne Diamond is in the middle of a serious row with the British shooting lobby. On Friday, the British Association of Shooting and Conservation, the country's leading shooting organisation, sent out a press release announcing that Diamond had taken part in a clay pigeon shooting event, and enjoyed it so much that she has signed her children up to a BASC shooting course.

Diamond - a vegetarian - is none too happy that her name is being used to publicise a charity that promotes the massacre of pheasants, grouse, and other feathered friends.

"Anne did go to an event with BASC, but it was as part of a radio programme she was doing for BBC Oxford," says her spokesman. "She knows nothing about the statement that has been put out on her behalf and feels she has had words put into her mouth."

Apparently, she did quite enjoy smashing up clay pigeons, but stands resolutely against taking aim at anything with blood in its veins.

* London Fashion Week only kicked off yesterday, but already there is news of the planned defection of one of the British industry's most high-profile brands to New York.

FrostFrench, the label co-owned by Sadie Frost, is preparing to break into the American market and show their collections in New York, not London, in future.

"So many of the bigger British designers have gone already," says Frost's partner, Jemima French. "Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and now Alice Temperley has been given a show over there. You have to go to New York. It's something you've got to do. You need that American exposure."

Last time round, Fashion Week was somewhat marred by being based in a tent in Battersea. This time, the centre-point has been moved upmarket to South Kensington. Perhaps now trendy fashion types will be keener to stick around.

* It takes a brave man to cross swords with the veteran art critic Brian Sewell, but the BBC executive Alan Yentob has put his neck on the line.

The issue at stake is the statue of Alison Lapper, now adorning the previously empty plinth in Trafalgar Square.

"Brian Sewell has been saying some rubbish about it," Yentob tells me, at the launch of a new book called Margarita's Olive Press by Rodney Shields.

"He objects to it but then he objects to everything. I suppose he's entertaining up to a point. But anyone who knows anything about art appreciates what Marc Quinn is trying to do. It's better than a load of generals that no one gives a fuck about. Public sculpture is supposed to inspire debate."

* Among the many excitements in store at the Labour Party Conference in a week's time, one stands out above all others. According to the official programme, which was mailed to attendees at the weekend, was a billing for a fringe meeting - theme: "winning back the missing voters" - to be addressed by Robin Cook.

Mr Cook would no doubt have drawn the crowds, but sadly passed away on August 6.

"It's a bit of a cock-up," says one party member. "Robin's death is not exactly something to be quickly forgotten."

The embarrassment is compounded by the fact that the meeting is sponsored by The Guardian. A newspaper should, perhaps, be expected to keep up with the news.

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