Unseen photographs of Margaret Thatcher, Enoch Powell and Jeffrey Archer go on show for the first time

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Politicians live and die by their public image, which makes this selection of previously unpublished photographs from their personal lives all the more revealing.

Taken at home or in their constituencies, these photographs show another side to high-profile politicians and previous Prime Ministers including Margaret Thatcher, Denis Healey, Harold Wilson, James Callaghan and Enoch Powell.

Click here for more unseen photographs of famous British politicians

Shot by amateur photographer John Farrier on a Nikon F100, the black and white images use natural light to convey what he calls “little snapshots” of the politicians’ characters.

Having arranged to photograph Tory MPs Bob Dunn and Keith Joseph after meeting them at an event in Parliament in 1984, Farrier slowly managed to coax more and more back and frontbenchers to sit for him.

In an amateur photography career spanning 30 years, Farrier has shot more than 190 MPs and Lords, giving him a unique insight into their personalities away from the glare of Westminster.

He followed Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on at least six constituency meetings and describes her as “very attentive and kind”. One portrait shows her with a plate in hand, queuing for food surrounded by other women - a rare sight for the first female PM whose entire cabinet was male. 

“She was known to put the fear of God into people, but she had a lovely other side to her as well. After that photo was taken she said ‘John do you want a cup of tea?’ I loved the thought of the Prime Minister asking if I wanted some tea. She then got this gigantic urn and poured a cup for everyone,” says Farrier. 

Thatcher was happy to let Farrier photograph her as he wished and did not dictate to him, unlike Jeffrey Archer, who had a clear vision on how he wanted to be shown in his portrait.

Taken shortly after he was elected, Archer’s photograph shows an ambitious young man looking up from a copy of The Daily Mail in front of Conservative campaign posters. On meeting Farrier, he told him: “You will photograph me like this.”

“He was really the cat who got the cream then. I suggested putting him in front of a picture of Maggie instead and he turned to me and said ‘I think you mean Margaret,’” says Farrier. 

Farrier talks fondly of his sessions with each politician, and says he often left their homes feeling like he had formed “quick and intense” relationships with them in just two or three hours.

One of his favourite shoots was with former Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his wife Mary, at their Westminster flat, which he describes as “like visiting your uncle and aunt”.

Mary beckoned him into the corner where Wilson was smoking and writing his memoirs. “I sat there on a small stall next to Wilson and talked to Mary who was doing her crocheting, and she told me about her thimble collection,” he says.

Farrier chose to take Wilson’s portrait of him sitting in the chair smoking his pipe, and says Mary was keen for him to hurry up so the three of them could enjoy a cup of tea in their kitchen. “I was there for over two hours and we talked a lot of nothing, really,” he says.

Farrier says he was often taken aback at how normal the politicians seemed despite their huge public personas. “It was a bit like meeting your headmaster- quite daunting. But I was always offered tea just like anybody else. I was looking at Denis Healey’s personal photographs within an hour of meeting him. That guy’s a dreamboat,” he says.

He tried to photograph Tony Blair during his term in office but the opportunity fell through. Having retired from his career in public relations and advertising, he hopes he can now take his hobby more seriously and is due to photograph Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin soon.

Farrier is currently planning on photographing David Cameron. Will the current PM live up to his ‘family man’ image and be pictured at home in Oxfordshire? Farrier thinks not and is instead planning take his portrait in Downing Street, much in the same way as Cecil Beaton took Churchill’s.

“I think he’d want to look more like Churchill. I think he rather models himself on Churchill,” he says.

Voices from Westminster at The Strand Gallery runs from 3-13 July; www.proud.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam