Grantham Museum's bust of Margaret Thatcher will portray an "awesome woman" on the anniversary of her death, says its sculptor
In 2011, accomplished sculptor Lisa Hawker created a bronze bust of the poet, Robert Buchanan, as part of a regeneration scheme in Southend-on-Sea.
© Lisa Hawker
Her latest work, on another figure possessing a way with words, is of Margaret Thatcher. Hawker spent hours watching video footage of the former Prime Minister, supplemented by reading Thatcher’s biography and studying archive photos.
“Mrs Thatcher’s public image was carefully contrived, particularly in the early days,” she says, lending a £25,000 copy of the bust to Grantham Museum, which will display it alongside the exhibition devoted to the Lincolnshire town’s best-known political leader.
“While it lent her the confidence and the powerful image she could use to lead the country, it also had a dehumanising effect, allowing her to be seen as more of an entity, or stereotype, than as a person.
“What I love about portraiture, whether painting or three-dimensional, is the way you can really inject personality into the subject, or at least that is what I intend to do – to add an energy to the work.
“To attempt to create a likeness of one of the most powerful and instantly recognisable people in the world, without playing on the stereotypical, has been one of the greatest challenges of my career to date.”
Hawker’s aim, she says, was to avoid the “caricature” vision of Thatcher. To achieve this, she decided to dispense with the suit and pearls her subject is traditionally pictured in.
"Mrs Thatcher’s formal public image was in a way self-inflicted,” she reflects, discussing the four-month sculpt.
“Her career required her to portray power but I wanted to present another view, one which showed the woman, the human being.
“Margaret Thatcher was an awesome woman and leader, whatever view you have of her politics.
“Before her critics condemn her so ferociously it should be remembered that she was human, one of us.
“I hope that my work, above all else, conveys her humanity and spirit and transcends political barriers."
A limited edition of nine Margarets are expected to be produced.
“It seems like only yesterday that the death of Margaret Thatcher was announced to the world, and here we are, nearly a year on, getting ready to commemorate the first anniversary of her passing,” says Helen Goral, the Chairman of the museum.
“Grantham Museum has changed almost beyond recognition from this time last year.
“We have gone from a single cabinet with a pair of shoes and a handbag to something far more worthy of the internationally renowned icon, and visitor numbers have reflected the public desire to see a more comprehensive exhibition relating to her heritage and achievements.
“As the first anniversary approaches, it is appropriate that her home town marks the occasion and offer visitors an opportunity to learn more about her life before, during and after her time as the first female Prime Minister of Great Britain.”
A condolence book at the museum, signed by more than 3,000 people, will be on view to the public.
- Margaret will be on display from April 4-30 2014.
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