Election 2015 England

Election 2015: Sketches from the official campaign artist

Sketch of televised leaders' debate Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption The leaders of the UK's major political parties were sketched at a televised debate filmed in Salford

The general election campaign has been played out under the glare of camera flashbulbs and studio lighting. But what does the canvassing look like when an HD lens is swapped for an HB pencil?

Official election artist Adam Dant has spent weeks sketching politicians and voters in towns and cities around the UK.

Image caption Adam Dant sketched John Humphrys (left) interviewing Labour leader Ed Miliband in New Broadcasting House

He has taken his sketchbook to manifesto launches, stage-managed speeches, the Today programme studio and into pubs and coffee shops to capture the "nature of political campaigning", he said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Adam Dant was named official election artist by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art

"The public are the most important thing abut the election.

"They are the conduit through which the candidates have to go to get where the want to be. They are the ones who have to be convinced," he said.

Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption David Cameron was drawn meeting voters in Edinburgh and launching his manifesto in Swindon
Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption Ed Miliband kicked off Labour's election campaign in Stratford, east London

Mr Dant was appointed by the Speaker's Advisory Committee on Works of Art to document the processes and outcome of the election.

He is the fourth official election artist - a post previously held by Simon Roberts in 2010, David Godbold in 2005 and Jonathan Yeo in 2001.

He said: "I've been commissioned to produce one very large work of art for the collection at Westminster which will be a historic record of this general election.

"As a way of gathering material I've been going up and down the country with my sketch book trying to capture the breadth of the election."

Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption Mr Dant sketched Nick Clegg speaking to a crowd in front of the Liberal Democrat battle bus
Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption The artist sketched Nigel Farage after the UKIP leader unveiled a poster in Kent

Mr Dant said he had been given "equal access" to the seven leaders and had enjoyed capturing rare moments of quiet amid the hustle and bustle of the campaign trail.

Referring to a sketch of UKIP leader Nigel Farage in a pub in St Margaret's Bay, Kent, he said: "That was a moment after the poster had been launched, after he had had the press scrum around him.

"I managed to get in to the pub while all the snappers and the cameras were peering in through the window.

"It shows a moment of relaxation. I thought he was going to order a beer but he had a coffee instead."

He said he hitched a ride on the Liberal Democrat battle bus after an event in Aberdeenshire.

"I've seen Nick Clegg a few times. I've been able to get quite proximate to him.

"I was not supposed to [be on the bus] but I was able to draw him on the battle bus."

Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption Natalie Bennett was sketched campaigning in Brighton and Brian May was drawn with Caroline Lucas
Image copyright Adam Dant/Hales Gallery
Image caption Mr Dant watched Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond campaigning in Inverurie and sketched Leanne Wood at the Leaders' Debate

Mr Dant said he had seen the leaders grow in confidence over the course of his work and had watched as they developed their styles of delivery.

He said: "I'm not really a caricaturist, I do not really do political cartoons.

"With the party leaders I do not want to caricature them. I like the fact they have very distinct hand gestures like Ed Miliband who will hold his arm out with his palm open.

"I've noticed how they have all got into the swing of things. It's like a theatre run of working out which lines and which gestures work with the audience."

Mr Dant's final completed work will join the Parliamentary Art Collection later in the year.

Adam Dant sketched the Today programme's studio on 4 May. Take a look at a gallery of those images.

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