Page last updated at 04:47 GMT, Saturday, 20 March 2010

Photographer Simon Roberts is official election artist

Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts is the first photographer to be chosen as election artist

A photographer has been chosen as the nation's official artist for the coming general election.

Simon Roberts has been commissioned by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art to document campaigning activity in the run-up to polling day.

Mr Roberts will be given special access to the campaign trail and his images will join the House of Commons Parliamentary Art Collection.

He will also ask the public to send in photographs for a parallel exhibition.

They are being asked to use digital cameras or mobile phones to capture local campaigns for an online gallery, with some images selected for display at the official Commons exhibition after the election.

Getting the public involved in the project also emphasises the democratic process Simon is documenting
Works of Art Committee Chairman Hugo Swire

Mr Roberts said: "I'm thrilled to receive this commission and be able to play a role in documenting what's likely to be one of the most exciting and historically significant elections since 1997."

He will spend three weeks travelling in a motor home, capturing the relationship between canvassing politicians and the voting public.

Election battle-buses, village greens, polling stations and shopping centres will provide the backdrop to many of the shots, taken using a traditional 5in by 4in plate camera.

"I'm particularly interested in the relationship between politicians and the public," said Mr Roberts.

"With the internet age, will there be politicians hitting the streets or will it all be done via mobile phones and call centres? That's the key for me."

'Inspiration'

There have been two previous election commissions. Jonathan Yeo's Proportional Representation was a series of three portraits of the party leaders, painted for the 2001 election.

In 2005, David Godbold's Forward not backward was a series of 18 drawings. However, he later claimed there had been attempts to censor his work and that he would not work for Parliament again.

Works of Art Committee chairman Hugo Swire said: "Since the days of Hogarth, elections have provided artists with a rich source of inspiration.

"This is the first time we have commissioned a photographer to follow the election and we are therefore very excited about what Simon Roberts is going to produce.

"Getting the public involved in the project also emphasises the democratic process Simon is documenting."



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