The artwork will be Simon’s own interpretation and record of the general election, based on special access to the election campaigns. His photographs will join the Parliamentary Art Collection in the House of Commons.
As part of the project Simon is also giving the public the chance to get involved in the commission, by submitting photographs relating to political activity in their local area leading up to and during the election.
"I’m thrilled to receive this commission and be able to play a role in documenting what’s likely to be one of the most exciting and historically significant elections since 1997. I am also appealing to the British public for input.
"Utilising photographs taken by the public, uploaded from digital cameras or transmitted via mobile phones, will create an alternative photographic vision alongside my own and will add a collaborative and democratic dimension to the overall work. They will also help to provide an antidote to the more stage-managed photographs increasingly seen from the campaign trail."
Simon’s project will centre on the relationship between the politicians canvassing and the voting public with images from battle-buses and village greens to polling stations and shopping centres. He plans to traverse the country in a motorhome during the three weeks of canvassing, photographing with a traditional 5x4” plate camera on film, his multi-layered and detailed tableaux images will provide an enduring and unique artistic response to the next general election.
There have been two previous election commissions; Jonathan Yeo’s Propotional Representation, a series of three portraits of the party leaders painted for the 2001 General Election and David Godbold's Forward not backward, a series of eighteen drawings made for the 2005 General Election. This will be the first time photography has been selected as the medium.
The public’s photographs will be published on an online gallery, with some selected to be displayed at the official exhibition in the House of Commons after the election.
Works of Art Committee Chairman Hugo Swire commented:
"Since the days of Hogarth, elections have provided artists with a rich source of inspiration. This is the first time we have commissioned a photographer to follow the election and we are therefore very excited about what Simon Roberts is going to produce.
"Getting the public involved in the project also emphasises the democratic process Simon is documenting."
Image: Charlie Crane