Since 2001, The Speaker’s Advisory Committee for Works of Art have appointed an official election artist for each General Election. This artist follows the election trail around the UK, and produces artwork based on their observations. In 2017, Cornelia Parker RA was selected. Her time as the official Election Artist led to the production of two works of digital art, and a series of photographic prints which are now part of the Parliamentary Art Collection. This exhibition presents the works of art produced during the commission, as well as two behind the scenes films which capture the development of the artworks.
On the Trail
During the campaign period, Cornelia Parker immersed herself in election activity. An impartial witness to events, she travelled the length and breadth of the United Kingdom observing electioneering activities of all the main political parties. She attended hustings, party manifesto launches, marches and televised debates, and met with voters and candidates across the country.
Equipped with an iPhone camera, Parker captured images and short videos of her experiences, sharing them on Instagram. In this way, she created her own alternative media coverage, reacting to each twist and turn of the campaign, responding to an election that turned out to be full of surprises. Her coverage of the campaign highlighted the social and political issues which dominated the debates and the headlines in the run up to the Election.
This two part film documents her time on the trail.
Election Abstract is an animation of over a thousand original photographs and videos that were posted on an Instagram feed as a personal diary of the election trail and its aftermath. It records travels to various UK cities on the campaign trail in pursuit of party manifesto launches, debates and public demonstrations. Sometimes Parker acted as part of the press pack, but often worked as a lone observer.
In the period leading up to, throughout, and immediately after the election campaign there were multiple terrorist attacks: Westminster, Manchester, London Bridge, and Finsbury Park Mosque. The Grenfell Tower fire disaster also occurred shortly after the election. The never-ending news cycle is intercut with pressing issues and anxieties expressed by the public and witnessed by the artist.
Selected photographs from Election Abstract
A series of 14 photographs were selected from Election Abstract and are part of the Parliamentary Art Collection as photographic prints. Click an image to see more details.
All photographs are copyright of the artist.
Left Right & Centre
The film Left Right & Centre is Parker’s main response to her residency. It features newspapers collected during the 2017 General Election campaign period and the eventful months that followed. The newspapers and their headlines chart the polarised opinions of the Left, Right and Centre.
Filmed in the dark at night and in the light of the following day, the film captures a new perspective of a very familiar space seen from two different points of view; the first a benign dispassionate observer and the second a malign agitator that disrupts and unsettles.
These works of art are the first pieces of digital art to join the Parliamentary Art Collection.
More Election Artworks
The next Election Artist, who is producing an artwork following the 2019 election, is Nicky Hirst. Read about the Election Artist for 2019 here.