Woman in Parliament - Clare Short

Exhibition number two of the week (and shameless self promotion) is 'Women in Parliament', photography and paintings from the Parliamentary art Collection, showing at the House of Commons.

My portrait of Clare short (former MP) is in the show. It was part of my commission for the House of Commons permanent collection and has been hanging proudly on the wall in Portcullis house with the rest of the set of 7.

I wanted to shoot her in a Lobby area of parliament as that is where much of the informal work and agreements in parliament happen. This is at the top of the grand staircase leading to the committee rooms in the House of Commons.

She had been a minister in Tony Blair's government and had always been an outspoken MP, which often got her into trouble with the labour party.

She had opposed the first Gulf war and then while in the cabinet, had spoken out about the second Gulf war, eventually voting for it, but, it would seem, under duress. She resigned from the cabinet not long after and eventually left the labour party and resigned from parliament in 2010, throwing a political grenade over her shoulder and suggesting that a hung parliament and proportional representation was a good idea, in a final defiance of her own political party.

When I met her she was defiant and proud. Having been a woman in parliament that would never shy away from controversy, she was used to battling her male colleagues and the old school mentality of the house. Even though this persona was firmly fixed and on display, I was hoping to get beyond that, and maybe there is some hint of doubt and regret after a long parliamentary career.

She was very friendly and happy to humour my unprofessional questions and I was happy to work with her green jacket.

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