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Houses of Parliament

Parliament Commission

The Big Draw at the Houses of Parliament

In September 2013 Gadsden was commissioned by Parliament to create 4 new paintings inspired by the Saints Mosaics that hang in the Upper Chamber at the Houses of Parliament.

Parliament Big Draw pdf

Gallery of the final artworks that were created

Parliament Press release ~ 02 October 2013

The Houses of Parliament is taking part in this year’s Big Draw event for the first time. The family-friendly project to create four new artworks will be led by artist Rachel Gadsden, who recently created work for the British Council in Qatar, and is part of the UK’s first ever Family Arts Festival.

Mosaics of the four patron saints based in Parliament’s Central Lobby are the focus of the project, with each saint representing each country in the UK, St George (England), St David (Wales), St Andrew (Scotland) and St Patrick (N. Ireland).

The project will run for three consecutive half-term Saturdays: 19 October, 26 October and 2 November and is sponsored by The Speaker’s Art Fund. The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon John Bercow said:

“I am very much looking forward to seeing the work created by families from this project and proud that for the first time Parliament is taking part in such a wonderful, creative international event. The Palace of Westminster is a fascinating building with some extraordinary art work and the project, with the help of artist Rachel Gadsden, will help to highlight some of its many features.”

Participants will take part in a 75 minute guided tour of Parliament, learning about the history of the building, its architecture and the artwork it contains, viewing the saint mosaics in situ. Tours will be geared particularly for family audiences.

Then, working with Rachel Gadsden in the famous Westminster Hall, interpretations of the mosaics will be created, using drawing and a variety of materials to encourage people to look at the shape, colour and detailing found on the original works.

Participants with visual impairments are encouraged to take part in the project and work with Rachel who herself has a visual impairment and has accessible methods to create artwork using tactile materials including glass tiles and gold leaf.

Each of the individual pieces of artwork created by the public (who can take their original home with them) will be photocopied, and through painting and collage Rachel will create interpretations of four contemporary saints (each artwork will be 6ft X 4ft) incorporating the contributing public drawings.