Photographer Simon Roberts was commissioned by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art as the official election artist by the Committee in March 2010.
His task was to provide an enduring and unique artistic response to the 2010 General Election, while achieving political and geographical balance around the country.
During the general election's twenty-four days of canvassing Simon travelled the UK in a motor home, photographing events with a traditional 5x4 inch plate camera on to film.
His attention focused on the relationship between the canvassing politicians and the voting public. He recorded not only the three main political parties but also the smaller parties and independent candidates, whilst simultaneously inviting the public to submit their own images of election activity in their area.
The result is a series of 25 images, one representing each day Simon spent on the campaign trail, and includes a final photograph capturing an unexpected additional day: – the coalition talks.
The 1,696 photographs submitted by members of the public also form part of a 15 metre installation in Portcullis House.
Simon Roberts commented:
"This was one of the most dramatic elections for many years and I was delighted to be officially selected to record it.
I wanted to move away from the media’s traditional approach of concentrating almost exclusively on the three main party leaders. I was more interested in exploring the experiences of the smaller political parties and independent candidates standing in marginal constituencies around the country. Moreover, I intended my photographs to be a captivating investigation of the British landscape, as well as the political campaign that was unfolding in it.
By using the photographs submitted by the public via digital cameras and mobiles I have created an alternative vision alongside my own, adding a democratic element to the work.
I hope that my photographs provide not just an antidote to the more stage-managed press photographs which were published during the campaign, but that they also form a historic archive of photograph, which captures the complexity of the UK’s social and political landscape in 2010."
The Speaker commented:
"This is the third general election for which an election artist has been commissioned and the first time the resulting artwork has been in the medium of photography. Simon’s photographs are highly detailed and carefully crafted to provide the contextual backdrop for the action which he has chosen to record.
There is much to enjoy and absorb in looking at the photographs as individual passages are played out in the background of the main action.
Taken as a body of work, the series of photographs is, and will always be, an important documentary record around the country of the election campaign of 2010. Yet, equally importantly, the photographs which make up the series succeed as works of art in their own right. They are an important addition to the Parliamentary Art Collection at the House of Commons."
Image: Simon Roberts