Leeds raised artist has 'brightly coloured' 2019 general election artwork sculpture displayed in Parliament

A Leeds raised artist's £19,500 artwork commissioned to represent the 2019 general election has gone on display in Parliament.

By Alex Grant
Tuesday, 12th April 2022, 4:45 am

The taxpayer-funded project is the first mobile to enter the Parliamentary Art Collection.

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The brightly coloured suspended sculpture, which is on display in Portcullis House, was created by Nicky Hirst, who was selected to be Parliament’s official election artist for 2019.

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The brightly coloured suspended sculpture, which is on display in Portcullis House, was created by Nicky Hirst. Picture: James Hardisty.

The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art has commissioned an election artist for each general election since 2001, with the resulting artwork being acquired for the Parliamentary Art Collection.

The latest addition, entitled There Was A Time 2019-20, is the result of the artist’s travels throughout the election, as she followed the campaign trail and attended related events such as hustings and manifesto launches.

The mobile’s moving form is intended to represent the “carousel” of stories and people at the election, and the 64 colourful abstract shapes aim to signify politicians and voters, and to celebrate the diversity of the election.

The artwork was approved for entry into Parliament’s collection by the Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art earlier this year, after progress was temporarily paused due to the pandemic.

The House of Commons said the project was funded by the committee’s budget. The commission was for £17,000, and election artists can also claim expenses for travel, subsistence and accommodation, which amounted to an additional £2,545.

Conservative MP Dean Russell, who chairs the committee, said the piece continues the tradition of commissioning works of art “for future generations to be informed and inspired by”.

He said: “The first December election in nearly 100 years, the 2019 election also produced the most diverse return of MPs in history. Nicky’s work reflects on this, using movement and colour to represent the diversity of voices and cyclical nature of the election process.”

Ms Hirst, who was born in Nottingham and grew up in Leeds, said she wanted the piece “to not only reflect our democratic process but also the diversity and myriad of opinion I saw and heard within the electorate”.

She said: “The general election campaign of 2019 unusually took place in the cold and wet months of November and December. As I travelled around the country, almost every town and city I visited had its own Christmas market, with a Ferris wheel or carousel.

“These rides, combined with huge station and town hall clocks, focused the mind on concepts around time and movement – specifically the cycle of the electoral campaigns I was following.”