Sculptor and Royal Academician Cornelia Parker is the first female election artist to be chosen by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art. She will receive a £17,000 commission fee plus travel expenses to enable her to observe the electoral campaign leading up to the vote on 8 June 2017 and produce a work of art about it.
“We live in scary but exhilarating times”, Parker said following the announcement of her appointment. “The whole world order seems to be changing. As an artist, I feel honoured to have been invited to respond to such an important election”, she added.
The role of official election artist was created in 2001 with the appointment of Jonathan Yeo. Yeo’s work ‘Proportional Representation’ was comprised of portraits of Tony Blair, William Hague and Charles Kennedy. The size of each portrait corresponded to the politicians’ individual shares of the vote. Subsequent election artists have toured the UK to produce drawings, oil paintings and photographs of politicians in action at rallies and set-piece events.
Parker’s oeuvre largely carries political overtones and has often involved some element of destruction. In ‘Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View’ she suspended fragments of a blown up garden shed around a light source as if in mid-explosion. Her ‘Breathless’ commission for the Victoria & Albert Museum used part of London’s Tower Bridge to flatten 54 brass band instruments.
Asked about her plans for her election 2017 artwork Parker said she would try to attend at least one of each party’s hustings as she is “more interested in the people, not necessarily the politicians”. She also suggested that there might be some “room for humour” in her final piece.