Portraits of UK political leaders David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett, handwritten by artist Annemarie Wright using the text of opinions expressed on Twitter, go on public show at the Woolff Gallery tonight (30 April 2015) — a week before the UK general election.
The opinions were collected by Wright from Twitter, where she set up an account for each subject with the acronym WDYTO (What Do You Think Of) and followed relevant hashtags from November 2014 to February 2015. “They range from vaguely complimentary to absolute condemnation,” she says.
Visitors to the solo exhibition, at Woolff Gallery on Charlotte Street, London, will be encouraged to share their own opinions of the election outcome in a guest book.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett is a candidate for the Holborn and St Pancras parliamentary seat currently held by Labour’s Frank Dobson who is standing down at this election. Bennett, who lives in Camden, took up the invitation to attend the gallery for a press launch last week.
Of the five party leaders it was Natalie Bennett who drew the most positive comments on the Twitter accounts set up by Artist Annemarie Wright. David Cameron drew the least positive comments, while Nigel Farage received the most divided love or hate reaction.
The five party leaders will be joined by a life-sized portrait of the Queen, who will take over Queen Victoria as the longest serving British Monarch this year; who Wright says elicited an overall positive response. Portraits of Lady Thatcher and Winston Churchill composed from some of their most famous, or infamous, speeches, will also be on display alongside pop-stars and celebrities.
“Preparing for this exhibition has been a really enlightening experience, from hung parliaments to hunger for blood; everybody has their own opinion on this general election,” says Wright.
“We live in a world made smaller by social media. Everybody has an opinion to be shared, an online footprint that will last forever; the urge to go viral. ‘What do you think of?’ is my attempt to capture this, to take a snapshot of the thoughts and opinions of the www generation.”
Wright takes a sideways look at people and places by recreating their image using only handwritten text — text that often describes, criticises or comes directly from the mouth of the people she depicts.
In April 2014 she presented a portrait of Sir Alex Ferguson made from the names of every fottballer who ever played for him. Previously Wright has provoked controversy with her portrait of Tony Blair created using the names of fallen British soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and with an image of New York’s Twin Towers, created from the names of the victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. Proceeds from these artworks went to Help the Heroes and the National September 11 Memorial Museum charities respectively.
“What Do You Think? 2015 Election Special” by Annemarie Wright: Woolff Gallery, 89 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 4PU. Private view: 6pm to 9pm, 30 April 2015. Exhibition: 1 – 15 May 2015. Woolf Gallery is also open with other Fitzrovia galleries as part of Fitzrovia Lates.