Damien Hirst, suffragette, spins with a twist

Artist has made a work to support the Women’s Equality Party

The Women’s Equality Party (WEP), a UK political party that was co-founded in March 2015 by the broadcaster, writer and comedian Sandi Toksvig, has a new celebrity on board: Damien Hirst.

The artist was asked by the party’s other co-founder and president, the author and journalist Catherine Mayer, to make a drawing for her to sell to raise funds for WEP—something to which he “immediately agreed”, Mayer says.

Hirst provided a variation on his customary spin, which he drew in green, white and violet to match the colours of WEP’s logo, which in turn match the original colours of Britain’s Suffragette movement. “The drawing is lovely and lovelier for its message. It is unique,” Mayer says.

The work—Spin Drawing for Women’s Equality (2015)—goes on sale at Phillips’ New Now auction in London on 13 April with an enticing £8,000 to £12,000 estimate.

The WEP, focused on gender equality, is non-partisan and therefore open to members of other parties. Since launch it has raised most of its funds through small donations and currently has 45,000 members and supporters (full disclosure: the writer of this article is a fully paid-up member). Hirst is by no means alone among the men who are supporting the party—“many thousands” are among its membership, Mayer says.

“The cost of politics is completely crazy. We don’t have the big, corporate donors like the established parties so we have to be as ingenious as we can,” Mayer says. For example, she says, the deposit for the party’s leader, Sophie Walker, to be a London Mayoral candidate is £20,000 (including an obligatory marketing charge). In May, WEP is also contesting elections for the London Assembly, the Welsh Assembly and the Scottish Parliament.

The objectives of the Women’s Equality Party include equal pay and shared opportunities and responsibilities in parenting and care giving. Mayer says that part of their campaign’s funds provides childcare for its candidates.

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