Portraits of David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and Natalie Bennett, hand-written by Annemarie Wright using the opinions expressed by the public collected from Twitter will be exhibited at her 2015 solo exhibition at Woolff Gallery, opening the week before the UK general election from 30th April to 15th May 2015.
The opinions used to create these artworks were collected by Wright (b.1979) from Social Media. She set up an account for each politician with the acronym WDYTO (What Do You Think Of) and invited the public to share their thoughts on each subject. “They range from vaguely complimentary, to absolute condemnation”, she says. Visitors to Wright’s solo exhibition will be encouraged to share their own opinions of the election outcome in a guest book. The text will later be turned into a portrait of the winning party, which will be exhibited later in the year.
Wright cemented her place in history last April when her portrait of Sir Alex Ferguson - created from the names of every player who had ever played for him - went viral on Twitter following his retirement. Images of the finished artwork appeared in newspapers around the world. Wright counts Stephen Fry among her fans, and the singer Adele commissioned a portrait of herself created using her song lyrics.
Wright spends 30-40 hours handwriting each portrait, painstaking attention to detail is essential, always keeping an eye on current events to incorporate her unique style.
Although she developed her technique at University, it was not until Wright created a portrait of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, made up from the names of fallen British soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, that she realised the political potential for her work. Later, “Buildings don’t go anywhere, they shouldn’t be restless” - an image of New York’s World Trade Center towers created from the names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks - received considerable exposure in national media. Proceeds from these artworks went to Help the Heroes, and the National September 11 Memorial Museum charities respectively.
Following the 2010 general election, Wright set up a website: “WhatDoYouThinkOfDavidCameron.com” (no longer active) to garner opinions of the then new prime minister. The resulting full-length portrait was purchased by a member of the House of Lords.
The five party leaders on show at Woolff Gallery will be joined by the Queen, as head of state, who Wright says elicited a generally very 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 other popular figures, musicians and celebrities.
Wright intends to provoke thought and debate with her work, she lives and works in Birmingham, UK.