New Acquisitions to the Parliamentary Art Collection, 2022
A new temporary display in Portcullis House showcases new acquisitions to the Parliamentary Art Collection made by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art in 2022. The Committee oversees purchases, donations, and commissions to the permanent Parliamentary Art Collection in the House of Commons and advises on the use and management of the Collection.
The latest display celebrates a selection of recent additions. It continues the Committee’s push to diversify the subjects, makers, and scenes that form the Collection.
Barbara Duval by Janina Forbes-Robertson
The new acquisitions include a rare depiction of a suffrage campaigner by Janina Forbes-Robertson, who captured Barbara Duval in an armchair holding a book. Duval took part in one of Parliament’s most high-profile protests. On the 29th October 1908, at the age of 17, she and her mother attended a demonstration outside Parliament (a little after two women, Helen Fox and Muriel Matters, had chained themselves to the grilles in the Ladies Gallery and dropped a proclamation into the Chamber below). Both were arrested.
Duval campaigned throughout her life and appeared on the WSPU’s “Roll of Honour of Suffragette Prisoners, 1905-14.” Sadly, she died at 28 before she could exercise her hard-fought right to vote. The artist Forbes-Robertson was born in Poland as Janina Flamm, but moved to London after marrying Eric Forbes-Robertson. This portrait joins the Parliamentary Art Collection’s growing collection of suffragist and suffragette portraits, including John Bacon’s Emmeline Pankhurst (WOA 5438) and Julian Barrow’s Eleanor Rathbone, MP (WOA 4391).
Kate Hoey MP by Tess Barnes
The contemporary portraitist Tess Barnes brings another new and important face into the collection. She painted Baroness Hoey when she was Minister for Sport 22 years ago. Hoey was elected eight times. She served as an MP for Vauxhall in London for 30 years—the fourth longest serving woman of all time. Baroness Hoey continues her crucial contributions to Parliament in her new role in the House of Lords. Barnes depicts the former MP here surrounded by objects that reflect her work and career: a photograph of Hoey with her parents, an artwork she painted during a class run for MPs at Chelsea School of Art, as well as a photo with Arsenal football players.
Idris Khan’s London Series
Topographical works (or studies of places) form a major part of the Parliamentary Art Collection. Our latest display includes five prints that extend that portfolio by depicting five of London’s iconic landmarks: The Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and St Paul’s Cathedral. Idris Khan’s “London series” was originally commissioned by the New York Times in 2012. Each shows London as a palimpsest (an item where new layers are added over the previous). It is composed from found imagery—postcards, photos, advertisements—from the 1930s onwards. Khan is a major British artist working across photography, video, and sculpture. His first career survey exhibition opens this year at the Milwaukee Art Museum in the United States.
Timeless by John Reyntiens
Among the most recent architectural work on the Estate is the restoration of Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower. The Reyntiens Glass Studio was central to this refurbishment, cutting and installing intricate glasswork for the clock faces by hand. The owner and stained-glass artist John Reyntiens donated a print to the Parliamentary Art Collection last year called “Timeless.” It symbolises the mammoth scale of the construction work and the longevity of the building. The clock in the print has no arms, capturing a moment during the construction work. Each member of the team who worked on the project signed the artwork.
John Hume by Colin Davidson
The New Acquisitions to the Parliamentary Art Collection 2022-3 display gave us another opportunity to celebrate Colin Davidson’s extraordinary portrait of John Hume commissioned by the Committee. You can read more about the work in our news story about the painting’s unveiling.