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Picture Book Of The Week: Chateau Despair

Inside the abandoned Conservative party headquarters.

New Statesman
Portrait of Margaret Thatcher, detail (Photo: GOST Books)

This portrait of Margaret Thatcher is taken from Chateau Despair by Lisa Barnard (GOST, £25). It is one of eight photographs of the former Conservative prime minister unearthed by Barnard in the Tory party’s former headquarters in Smith Square in Westminster.

Barnard began photographing the building, which the Tories left in 2004, in August 2009, when the party was still in opposition. The images she shot formed part of a project entitled 32 Smith Square. Memories of Conservative governments past haunt the empty, slightly dishevelled offices and meeting rooms in Barnard’s pictures. In her afterword to the book, Sarah James writes:

“[Thatcher’s] presence lurks everywhere behind the detritus of Smith Square, and reanimates its ghosts.”

[All images: Chateau Despair, Lisa Barnard, GOST Books.]