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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Art show to explore 'erotic' Thatcher
Lady Margaret Thatcher
Lady Thatcher: Set to be seen in a different light
Former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's "Iron Lady" image could be banished by a revolutionary art exhibition.

The Blue Gallery in Clerkenwell, north east London, is planning the show for next year and wants it to explore Baroness Thatcher "erotic-iconic quality".

The gallery is aiming to commission about 30 artists who grew up during Lady Thatcher's 11 years as prime minister.


Time is ripe for a contemporary art response to the Thatcher phenomenon

Tara Howard, Blue Gallery curator

Their brief will be to produce works that reflect the "Thatcher phenomenon" but with a view to representing her as more than just a formidable premier.

The gallery curator, Tara Howard, said: "Time is ripe for a contemporary art response to the Thatcher phenomenon.

"Inevitably, some artists will take an oblique or politicised approach to the subject but I wanted to keep the focus on her rather than on Thatcher's Britain.

"I'm interested in her erotic-iconic quality and her ability to provoke extremes of response."

Flattering

Gallery director Phil Gadsall told BBC News Online that they hoped to secure the participation of a wide range of artists.

"We want it to be an interesting show, both because it is tackling an issue not dealt with before in art and because it refects all view points of Lady Thatcher."

Lady Thatcher was prime minister from May 1979 until November 1990.

During her reign, she was often seen in a stern light which led to her employing a consultant to "soften" her image.

But whatever her critics said about her, Lady Thatcher had her admirers, including the late French leader François Mitterrand.

Monsieur Mitterand said he thought Lady Thatcher had "the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe".

Although she is no longer in power, this has not stopped her from stepping back into the limelight when she feels the urge.

She was vocal during the last election as she campaigned to show her support for the Tories.

And on hearing about the planned art show, a spokesman for Lady Thatcher said: "It's flattering that people think she is important enough to merit an exhibition."

See also:

21 Nov 00 | UK Politics
Tories still missing Thatcher
23 Feb 00 | UK Politics
Blair takes a leaf from Thatcher's book
13 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Spitting Image sale boosts charity
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