Last night I was at the Kowalsky Gallery (Great Sutton Street, London) for an exhibition run by the Design and Artists Copyright Society. A friend of mine works there and helped to get this lovely little collection of political cartoons, photos and other art together.
There’s work by Steve Bell, Ralph Steadman, Gerald Scarfe and others; there’s a delicious photo of a deeply scornful old woman in a television shop, pointedly ignoring dozens of screens behind her on which poor Iain Duncan Smith is delivering his 2002 ‘quiet man’ speech; there’s a remarkable picture of the poll tax riots in which a young woman holding a baton is about to go at a policeman bracing himself behind a shield.
Maggie Gets Her Hands Dirty, May 1983 by Roger Bamber
© Roger Bamber 2007.
My friend also unearthed this wonderful photo of the greatest female prime minister Britain has ever had. If you remember the 1983 general election, you may recall Thatcher doing a photo-op at a farm, cuddling lambs and the like. At one point, though, she enthusiastically stuck her hands into a pile of what she thought was oats… but turned out to be something much less appetising.
Photographer Roger Bamber snapped her, but he was working for the Sun, who were disinclined to depict their heroine covered in the same substance that she was dragging the country through. It wasn’t published, and I do believe she went on to win that election. I was six at the time and had more important things to worry about.
The ‘Politics Pays Back’ exhibition runs until 31 January. Viewings seem to be mainly by appointment, but it’s definitely worth a look if you have the opportunity.