About The Election Project

























Simon Roberts Portrait

© Joanna Fu

House of Commons Logo

"Roberts' Election photographs are like theatre sets, with myriad small dramas being played out in them. They repay scrutiny; as gestures, expressions, and involvement – or lack of – in the campaign process, are revealed. The public submissions, on the other hand, show a very British combination of cynicism, humour and the absurd. Taken as a whole, Roberts Election Project is far more than simply a record of what transpired to be an historic year in British politics. It is also an important overview of the British people and landscape in 2010."
Greg Hobson, Curator, National Media Museum

When Simon Roberts was selected by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art as the third British Election Artist*, he set out to capture the political spirit of the UK in the lead up to the General Election of 2010 and approached the project from both a personal and a public angle. Travelling the country in his motorhome Roberts tried to create as wide and diverse an historic document of the 24-day election campaign as possible. Not only did he record a cross-section of political parties in as broad a variety of constituencies, but he also set up a bespoke website (www.theelectionproject.co.uk) aimed at encouraging public participation through an invitation for people to represent their views on the campaigns by uploading their own photographs.


In The Election Project Roberts’ images foreground the spectacle as that of onlookers rather than the event itself: flocks of amateur and professional photographers follow the UK election trail, congregating around newsworthy events, and therein become points of interests themselves. Further, in the context of a political landscape in which many people had become disillusioned with and distrustful of politicians, he tried to democratize the artistic process and give the electorate the space to share their visual responses. A method that, in some ways, recalls the Mass Observation movement of the 1930s-50s, which aimed to create, in its own words, an ‘anthropology of ourselves’.


The final artwork thus engages with both the artistic tradition of the lone individual photographer using analogue processes, as well as with contemporary photographic approaches to gathering content digitally via public engagement, such as citizen journalism and crowdsourcing. The Election Project echoes this dual approach, being comprised of Roberts’ 25 large-format colour tableaux photographs, each representing a day he spent on the campaign, (plus a final image capturing an extra day focused on the coalition talks) and the 1,696 images that were submitted to the Public Gallery.


The resulting discrete but complementary bodies of work makes this project in its entirety, not only an important snapshot and archive of a particular time in British UK politics, but also offers a wider survey of British people and the landscapes they inhabit, a theme that permeates much of Roberts' work. This collection of pictures is also a valuable social document that illuminates the impact of digital media and technologies upon the fabric and culture of photography in the 21st century.


The Election Project is now part of the Parliamentary Art Collection - a national collection documenting the history of Parliament and British politics that is owned jointly by the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The project has also been archived by the British Library and a series of essays about the work can be downloaded here.


* Jonathan Yeo was commissioned in 2001 and David Godbold in 2005.


About Simon Roberts

Simon Roberts (b.1974) is a British photographic artist whose work deals with our relationship to landscape and notions of identity and belonging. His large format photographs are taken with great technical precision, often from elevated positions. The distanced vantage point allows the relationship of individual bodies and groups to the landscape to be clearly observed, and echoes the visual language of history painting.

He has exhibited widely and his photographs reside in major public and private collections, including the George Eastman House, Deutsche Börse Art Collection and Wilson Centre for Photography. In 2010 he was commissioned as the official Election Artist by the House of Commons Works of Art Committee to produce a record of the General Election on behalf of the UK Parliamentary Art Collection. In 2012 he was granted access by the International Olympic Committee to photograph the London Olympics and most recently was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

He has published three critically acclaimed monographs, Motherland (Chris Boot, 2007), We English (Chris Boot, 2009) – voted as one of the best photography books of the past decade – and Pierdom (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013).

For more information visit www.simoncroberts.com.

A complete resume can be downloaded here: SIMON ROBERTS CV

About The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art

The Speaker’s Advisory Committee on Works of Art was established in 1956 to advise the Speaker on matters relating to works of art in the House of Commons collection. The 2009/2010 members of the Committee who commissioned Simon were: Mr Hugo Swire (Chairman), Mr Peter Ainsworth MP, Mr Frank Doran MP, Lady Hermon MP, Brookes Newmark MP, Anne Main MP, Judy Mallaber MP, Christine Russell MP, John Thurso MP, Derek Wyatt MP and Peter Wishart MP.

Further information and a full list of the works in the Parliamentary Art Collection can be found here.

Contact Information

For more information please email studio@simoncroberts.com.