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Politicians live and die by their public image, which makes this selection of previously unpublished photographs from their personal lives all the more revealing.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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Minchin portrait
For a no-holds-barred performer who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, Tim Minchin is surprisingly gentle
Arts and Entertainment
Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
tvReview: The 'Impossible Girl' earns some companion stripes... but she’s still annoying in 'Dr Who, Flatline'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Joy Division photographed around Waterloo Road, Stockport, near Strawberry Studios. The band are Bernard Sumner (guitar and keyboards), Stephen Morris (drums and percussion), Ian Curtis (vocals and occasional guitar), Peter Hook (bass guitar and backing vocals).
books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
filmThe Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Streisand is his true inspiration
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor contestant Fleur East
tvReview: Some lacklustre performances - but the usual frontrunners continue to excel
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
artAs two major London galleries put textiles in the spotlight, the poor relation of the creative world is getting recognition it deserves
Arts and Entertainment
Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
Arts and Entertainment
On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

Film

Arts and Entertainment
Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
tvReview: No one was safe as Lord Sugar shook things up
News
Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
Music Album is set to enter UK top 40 at lowest chart position in 30 years
Arts and Entertainment
The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
Arts and Entertainment

Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
Arts and Entertainment
New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Polly Morgan

art
Latest stories from i100
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.

    Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

    Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

    Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
    British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

    British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

    Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
    Let's talk about loss

    We need to talk about loss

    Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

    Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album