Thursday 22nd May 2014

I leave home at 5.30am to get to Parliament early, as I have a photo permit for one hour at 8am. It feels like I’m going on an Easy Jet holiday on the cheap.

I take a tripod and wide-angle lens, as I think this building might be really hard to photograph – and it is!  The security staff are jolly and I show my artist in residence badge and permit every time a uniformed officer even glances at me.

I end up chatting with them more than I take pictures – it seems a lot of people I come in contact with love the history of the building and always have a story to tell. This morning it was all about the tiles. The lions on the outside of St Stephen’s Hall have eyes, while the ones down the centre don’t – apparently to do with preserving the modesty of ladies walking through. I’m not so sure; maybe they are winding me up? I get some photos. Good for today, but I will need to arrange a few more sessions like this.

I also get a drawing permit and sit quietly in St Stephen’s Hall and sketch – I think a combination of getting up too early and being overwhelmed by the amount of ornamentation makes me begin to feel exhausted and depressed.


Shrouded statues. Image: Mary Branson

What I do like is the statues with their plastic ‘shrouds’, put on to protect them during restoration work. They reinforce one of my initial ideas, which is to cast glass women ‘witnesses’, situated at understated but strategic sites around the public area.

Come back on Saturday 27 August 2016, when Mary visits the Supreme Court…