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Division! (A Map of the Division Bells of Westminster)

Adam Dant

2020 55.9 x 76.2 cm
Hand-tinted lithograph print
300 gsm Somerset Satin 100% cotton rag
Signed and editioned by the artist
Edition of 50

Free UK shipping on unframed prints

"When I was a child, in common with many other young people at the time, I wrote a letter to my local MP asking if they would give me and my classmates a tour of Parliament. My MP wrote back straight away and very soon a bunch of raggedy 9-year-olds were stuffed into the St Lawrence’s Catholic Primary School’s rusty old school minibus and driven from Robert Rhodes James’s seat in Cambridge to the seat of power in Westminster.
What I remember in particular from our tour of the chambers of Parliament was Mr Rhodes James description of his home in the capital. "Did he come here from Cambridge every day?" I’d asked. When he informed us that he also had a home in London ‘within the division bell’ my stupid 9-year-old imagination immediately imagined our MP having his living quarters inside an actual bell. One of the nuns had been reading to us from James and the Giant Peach that term. If a couple of old ladies could live in a big piece of fruit then why couldn’t a politician live in a big bell? It’s a good idea.
Once I’d finished drawing this map, which locates several of Westminster’s ‘off-site’ division bells, I realised that in effect our MPs do all live within a big bell. As well as the bells that that sound within the Parliamentary Estate to call MPs back to the chamber to vote, there also exists a whole network of extra-mural tips to make sure MPs know that if they don’t get back to central lobby within 8 minutes then they’ll be ‘locked out’ and miss a vote.
In creating this map, stories of political ‘gourmandising’ lore are rife. Everyone who has a bell, from the St Stephens Tavern to The Cinnamon Club has a colourful tale to tell. There’s a lot of work that can be done in the pubs and restaurants of Westminster secure in the knowledge that votes will not be missed thanks to this arcane system of wires, circuits and metal cloches. I tried to trace the source of the system but after being blinded by science and secrets in a basement room behind a door labelled ‘engineering control’ directly underneath Parliament's central lobby I much prefer to stick to the idea that our elected representatives are happily installed and ready for action, owl-like, clustered within a massive bell"
- Adam Dant.
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