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LITERARY EVENING: THE OTHER

4 April 2019

Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 05 – ELIZABETH GLEAVE

1 March - 31 March 2019

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DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 04 – LEIA MORRISON

1 February - 28 February 2019

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Here And Now

19 February - 23 February 2019

Exhibitions

PAULINE ROWE & DAVE LOCKWOOD – THE ALLOTMENTS

29 August - 28 September 2019

Exhibitions

Stephanie Wynne and Stephen McCoy — Triangulation

18 July - 22 August 2019

Exhibitions

TABITHA JUSSA & JOHN DAVIES – CAN’T SEE THE WOOD FOR THE TREES

6 June - 4 July 2019

Exhibitions

Yan Wang Preston — Forest

6 June - 31 August 2019

Exhibitions

LIZ HINGLEY – SHANGHAI SACRED

6 June - 25 September 2019

Future Exhibitions

Kinship

9 May - 7 July 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 03 – OLLIE HAYWARD

1 January - 31 January 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 02 – RACHEL GLASS

1 December - 31 December 2018

Projects Exhibitions

209 Women

28 February - 14 April 2019

Past Exhibitions

DIGITAL WINDOW GALLERY: OPEN SOURCE 01 – HEATHER GLAZZARD

1 November - 30 November 2018

Projects Culture Shifts

Where Things are Different

15 August 2017

Past Exhibitions

She Dreams – Yan Wang Preston

24 September - 10 February 2018

Past Exhibitions

Wake Up Together

15 November - 17 February 2019

Exhibitions

DISTINCTLY

27 September - 24 November 2019

Projects

209 Women Crowdfunder

6 September - 17 October 2018

Past Exhibitions

XU ZHEN: OPTIMIZING

13 July - 7 September 2018

Past Exhibitions

HIDDEN WORLDS

14 July - 16 July 2018

Past Exhibitions

New Brighton Revisited

14 July - 25 August 2018

Exhibitions

SEEING FUTURES: HUGH BAIRD PHOTOGRAPHY UNDERGRADUATES & ALUMNI

29 June 2018

Past Exhibitions

‘ELLESMERE PORT’ WHITBY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT EXHIBITION

22 June 2018

Past Exhibitions

Liverpool Biennial 2018: Beautiful World Where Are You?

14 July - 28 October 2018

Past Exhibitions

China Conversation

17 June 2018

Projects

MA Course Brief

1 September 2018

Main Exhibition

Our North

28 March - 30 March 2018

Past Exhibitions

Snapshot to WeChat: A Migration of Identity

6 April 2018

Exhibitions Main Exhibition

The Pier Head – Tom Wood

12 January - 25 March 2018

Past Exhibitions

Ferry Folk

11 January - 25 March 2018

Projects Past Exhibitions

Culture Shifts: Local

6 October - 22 December 2017

Past Exhibitions

Finding Fangorn

26 October - 26 November 2017

Past Exhibitions

Who We Are

22 June - 26 June 2017

Past Exhibitions

OPEN 3: AFFECTING CHANGE

7 July - 17 September 2017

Past Exhibitions

Tate Exchange Liverpool

27 November - 29 November 2016

Past Exhibitions

Jerwood/Photoworks Awards 2015

28 October - 18 December 2016

Wall Work

40 Years of Open Eye Gallery: 1977-2017

5 January 2017

Past Exhibitions

North: Identity, Photography, Fashion

6 January - 19 March 2017

Projects Past Exhibitions

Culture Shifts: Global

7 April - 18 June 2017

Projects Culture Shifts

Life Beyond Diagnosis

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

Home Is A Person/ L8: The World Lived Here

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

POSITIVE CHANGES

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

WINDS OF CHANGE

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

St Helens

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

As and When

9 October 2016

Projects Culture Shifts

Wirral: Another Language/ In The Pink Room

9 October 2016

Culture Shifts

Animator Training

9 October 2016

Past Exhibitions

Liverpool Biennial 2016

9 July - 16 October 2016

Past Exhibitions

Walter & Zoniel: Spectra

9 July - 16 October 2016

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209 Women at Open Eye Gallery, Tabitha Jussa, 2019
209 Women at Open Eye Gallery, Tabitha Jussa, 2019

209 Women Series: A History of Parliamentary Portraiture

The tradition of honouring political figures with public portraiture stretches back hundreds of years — through oil paintings, marble statues or bronze busts. The UK Parliamentary Art Collection is full of portraits of notable British figures, although the weighting of the parliamentary collection is, undeniably, chiefly towards white middle-class men. It tells a story not just of the history of our politics, but also how that history is managed, and who gets to have a place in it.

When the new Palace of Westminster was under construction in the 19th century, the Fine Arts Commission intended on covering the newly built walls with paintings — ideally by British artists. The intention was to rouse national interest and illustrate Britain’s refusal to fall behind its European neighbours in artistic endeavours. This included many portraits of significant figures, chiefly members of the royal family, as well as scenes of British military success, such as the Spanish Armada. However, the Commision never managed to fill the newly built Houses of Parliament, chiefly due to financial issues, and over time the blank spaces on the walls of the palace were plastered instead in wallpaper.

In the 1950s there was a revival of the Fine Arts Commision as it was agreed that there was a need to capture and celebrate the history of British politics. By the 1950s, there were huge gaps in political history that had no artistic documentation, it was felt that many significant political figures had been forgotten. This resulted in the compilation of a list of notable figures that, it was felt, had earned a space on the walls of the Palace of Westminster. Many political figures that merited a portrait were finally recognised, such as William Wilberforce and Neville Chamberlain.

In more recent years, the focus on political portraiture has at long last become more inclusive. Of course, the huge oil paintings of Queen Victoria in the Houses of Parliament remain, but now every MP, despite gender, race and sexulality has been offered to have their portrait captured — not through painting, but through the more accessible and democratising medium of photography. In 2017 the MPs Portrait Project worked alongside photographer Chris McAndrew and succeeded in capturing universal and up to date portraits of British MPs to be viewed on the Parliament website. The aim was to ‘humanise the public figures responsible for running our country’¹. This project went down a storm with the general public ‘the pictures went down well on social media – and showed MPs weren’t “alien species” but a “reflection of us as real people”’. ²

Today, other projects also attempt to capture and celebrate the achievements of MPs in UK Parliament, such as 209 Women. This exhibition focuses specifically on the 209 women MPs in UK Parliament, individually photographed by 209 female photographers. The exhibition launched at Portcullis House, allowing for all the female MPs to have their portrait hang in parliamentary residence. Like the MP Portrait Project, it also humanises the women that manage our country. 209 Women arguably goes one step further, as it captures each MP for the woman she is, depicting these female MPs and their personalities, also the relationship between each MP and her photographer is clear. The photographers endeavoured to capture the essence of each MP: 209 Women, then, acts as a good middle ground between the universal archival nature of the recent MP portrait project and the traditional, more personal element of portraiture paintings.

The tradition of parliamentary portraiture is continuing into the 21st century, and although the mediums may evolve from traditional paintings and statues to photography, this allows for more inclusivity, allowing more MPs to be recognised and praised for their work.

Alisha Snozwell

 

References:

1. Carrie Kleiner, ‘Making History: Official Portraits and Open Images’, Parliamentary Digital Service, (2017), <https://pds.blog.parliament.uk/2017/07/21/mp-official-portraits-open-source-images/> [accessed 6th March 2019].

Georgina Pattinson, ‘MP’s portraits: Photos show ‘human’ side of Parliament’, BBC News, (28 July 2017), <https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-parliaments-40755201>[accessed 11th March 2019].

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