A drawn petition for the decriminalisation of sex work

A London artist is taking to the streets with the International Union for Sex Workers to highlight the danger to prostitutes whose human, civil and labour rights are being eroded by legislation – but rather than collecting signatures, she aims to draw up a petition with at least a thousand portraits of the supporters.

Natasha Gomperts plans to sketch the five-minute portraits that will be exhibited at The Gallery, Shepherd Market, Mayfair’s ancient red light quarter. The unique petition will bring together the oldest recorded profession with the oldest way of recording life’s key issues and events.

In the run up to the exhibition Gomperts will be building up her collection of portraits in London on the streets, in offices, pubs, clubs and perhaps the odd sauna.

Members of the public are invited to visit The Gallery in the week of the exhibition, which is free of charge, to add their face to the petition in support of those who have to keep their faces hidden from public view.

Gomperts says, “We all know what it’s like to put our name on a petition. But, they say that a picture speaks a thousand words, so we hope that the thousand portraits will be a more powerful way for people to pledge their support. I have been drawing portraits for many years, usually in my studio or the sitter’s home. However, I love the spontaneity and unpredictable environment of drawing on the streets. With only five minutes to get each portrait done, it’s going to be pretty intense. But I’m very excited about the challenge and hope that my drawings will help to bring this important cause the attention it deserves.”

Catherine Stephens of the International Union for Sex Workers says, “The Drawn Petition is a wonderful collaboration that we hope will really capture the imagination to raise awareness of the dangers faced by sex workers every day. Natasha’s fast yet intimate portraits are a superb and inspirational way of doing this.”

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