The greatest sculpture of our time?

Christopher Little discusses a sculpture of Theresa May which has been making ripples in the art world.

Christopher Little
30th October 2017

Theresa May once confessed that “running through fields of wheat” was the naughtiest thing she’d ever done. If Ellie Pennick’s ‘Our Theresa’ sculpture is anything to go by, she was telling a big fat lie. (No change there then!)

Our Prime Minister hasn’t had the best of times lately. There’s been that tickly cough, the embarrassment of being handed her P45 in front of all her enemies, I mean friends, and being told to literally ‘f’ off by the Conservative Party Conference itself.

A creation so brazen, so indecent, so very, very naughty, I’m not quite sure where to begin.

She’s having such a hard time that some – from varying political allegiances I might add – are actually feeling sorry for her. They’re saying, “give the gal a break”. And maybe they’re right. There’s an old proverb that you shouldn’t kick someone when they’re down, but then again we are talking about the Tory overlord, so why the hell not.

Cue Ellie Pennick’s giant pink sculpture. A creation so brazen, so indecent, so very, very naughty, I’m not quite sure where to begin. I suppose we may as well get to the nitty gritty first. Basically, she’s drilling for oil with a EU flag. Using it to take a dip in the lake. To go spelunking in the mystery cave. If you haven’t caught on by now, she’s bashing one out with the flag.


My word, that was awkward. Anyway, it gets better, or worse depending on your viewpoint. ‘Our Theresa’ is lying on her back, wearing crotchless leather pants, with a can of beer in hand, a fag in her mouth and a ‘Strong & Stable’ necklace around her neck – a cracking touch I might add – and of course she’s not wearing a top, though what’s going on down below is of more pressingconcern.

At this point I think it is important to add some context regarding the artist. Pennick wears her working-class Northern heritage with pride, drawing upon that passion to stoke the fires of her outlandish creativity. The works she creates are designed to challenge the post-Thatcher neoliberal society she rebels against. This new sculpture is not atypical of the artist, who frequently uses sex to satirise serious social and political themes – her previous work used homoeroticism to reverse class roles in society.

Even still, some have criticised the artist for her representation, and disparaging use, of the female body. But art collective Nasty Women, who take their name from Trump’s derogatory comments towards Hilary Clinton, certainly weren’t dismayed by the bawdy sculpture.

Brexit is so brash it probably deserves a ludicrous caricature to capture the madness of it all

They were proud to place it in their first feminist themed London exhibition in September, so much so that Theresa’s open legs greeted all 3,000 visitors as they entered the building. With all money raised from the event going to Rape Crisis England and Wales and Women for Women International, it’s hard to argue it’s not all for a good cause.

History is full of works of art that have challenged power, and whilst many are subtle and nuanced, Brexit is so brash it probably deserves a ludicrous caricature to capture the madness of it all. In truth though, ‘Our Theresa’ has drawn the short straw, it really should be Boris or Farage shoving that flag up their jacksie.

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