National Living Treasure, Michael Leunig at Mercedes me

Mercedes me was thrilled to host cartoonist and inadvertent philosopher, Michael Leunig for an in conversation evening ‘with himself, and with you’, in early December 2018.

Melbournians were treated to an excitingly rare opportunity at Mercedes me, when the iconic Australian artist delighted guests with discussion and live drawing of his famous cartoons.

Guests were welcomed with a drink and canapés before settling down to witness Leunig in his element. Whilst chatting to the crowd, Leunig got to work, eagerly capturing the attention of the guests as he recreated his signature characters.

Working quickly and nimbly, Leunig’s unforced style gave the audience an insight into the relaxed meaning behind his cartoons. Starting out at Melbourne’s The Age in 1969, he has continued drawing cartoons for over 40 years to global acclaim.

He explained how his pivotal characters were first created in reaction to a strict deadline for a newspaper he was working at. Rather than creating a cartoon that reflected the harsh times of the Vietnam War, Leunig defied instruction and instead drew an optimistic fantasy of a man freely walking surrounded by warm familiarities; a duck by his side and a teapot on his head. Leunig best described it as an antidote to all the seriousness in the newspapers, and is what continues to inspire his cartoons to this day.

The crowd was in awe of such an iconic artist sharing his most intimate details as to how his journey as a political and philosophical cartoonist began. Leunig went on to explain the techniques he used to draw his pieces, and how they were self-taught as opposed to professionally learnt.

Alternating between the discussion of fascinating topics and his effortless drawing, Leunig held the audience captive for an hour before delving into a Q&A, where he discussed at length how his platform has allowed him to become more in touch with his political and community values.

Being a key pillar at Mercedes me – we welcomed Michael Leunig’s appreciation and contribution to the community. Audience members were lucky to receive complimentary Michael Leunig illustrative cards and unforgettable night with an Australian national living treasure.

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