Sheffield artist Lorna May Wadsworth was born the year Margaret Thatcher came to power.
“I very much wanted to paint Margaret Thatcher because I had never seen a portrait which I felt captured the figure I remember from my childhood,” she says.
“All the painted portraits I have seen of her in the National Portrait Gallery, the Palace of Westminster and then throughout her home, do not convey to me the magnitude of her strength of character, or reflect the remarkable place she holds in our recent history.
“I wanted to see evidence of the Iron Lady who wasn’t for turning. I wanted to see a big gutsy painting of her that stopped you in your tracks.”
Lorna had five sittings with Lady Thatcher in 2007, painting a life size portrait which was scaled up to six feet square.
The painting sits in the figurative artist’s studio in Hackney - and now, after the death of the former Prime Minister and her funeral yesterday, she hopes it will be picked up for a public non-partisan collection. “That’s why I have held on to it.”
Lorna, whose parents Peter and Margaret live in Ecclesfield, began her art career as a distraction from the hymns at Walkley Baptist Church at the age of four! She went to Notre Dame School and Sheffield College before Falmouth College of Art and the Prince’s Drawing School in London.
On the other end of the political spectrum, she has been artist in residence at the Labour Party conference, and her portrait of David Blunkett hangs in the House of Commons. More recently, she was artist in residence for Comic Relief, working with the likes of Jack Dee, John Bishop and Zoe Ball.
Grateful for the “rare access” to Margaret Thatcher, she said: “I did not wish to make the painting either a celebration or a criticism. My intent was to bear witness to this towering figure of British life.”
Artist Lorna May Wadsworth:
“People may love the portrait, or they may think it’s the most hideous thing they’ve seen.
They may want to pin blue ribbons to it or throw eggs at it.
“It is my job not to comment, but to paint what I see.
I think whatever one makes of Lady Thatcher, she warrants more than a polite picture one could walk past without noticing.....”