High Peak artist parodies MP in Oliver Twist portrait

A High Peak artist has created a tongue-in-cheek portrait of MP Robert Largan in a scene from Oliver Twist following his controversial vote over the extension of free school meals during holidays.

By Ben McVay
Friday, 20th November 2020, 4:45 pm

Stencil artist James Degnen (better known as ‘Deggy’) told how the idea came about after the MP posted a competition on Facebook inviting constituency children to design Christmas cards.

It comes after many constituents reacted in uproar when - in October - the MP failed to back a Parliamentary motion offering free school meal vouchers during school holidays until Easter 2021.

Deggy, 27, branding the MP’s competition ‘a cheek’ said: “The fact that he voted the way he did but now he wants kids to do him a favour - so I thought ‘Ok, I’ll design one myself’.

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Deggy with his work

Speaking about the remarkable work Deggy told how an artist friend suggested a scene from Oliver Twist.

He said: “I just thought it was a really cool idea - although it’s quite funny it’s not really meant to be and it’s quite a sinister piece in a way.”

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Furloughed Cash Converters worker Deggy has now put the irreverent work up for raffle - with all proceeds going to Glossopdale Foodbank.

The Privileged & The Poor - by Deggy

He described being inspired to donate the work to the charity after recalling seeing hard-up families selling household goods to pay for food at the pawn store.

Deggy, who also plays bass in Manchester band Gorilla Riot, said: “You’d see people selling an old radio for just a couple of pounds - scraping to get by.

“I don’t know Robert Largan myself but that vote really upset a lot of people - we’re a tight-knit community and I think it says a lot when you’re voting against feeding hungry people.”

The artist, musician and live music promoter told how the work was inspired by pop art from the 70s and 80s.

Deggy. Photo by Mick Peek

He said: “I’ve been a stencil artist since I was at school - but it’s a style which is always frowned upon from an academic point of view.

“Art itself doesn’t influence me though - it’s more about whatever's going on that I can turn into something cool.”

The painting - which Deggy has named The Privileged & The Poor - is being raffled until December 4 and raised over £400 for the food bank during the first 36 hours.

Raffle tickets cost £5 each and Deggy will draw the winner on Facebook on December 4. To buy a ticket send him a message him HERE.

High Peak MP Robert, reacting to Deggy’s work and comments, thanked him for raising money for Glossopdale Foodbank, adding ‘I will be buying 50 raffle tickets myself’.

He said: "Much as we disagree on how it should be remedied Deggy raises a vitally important issue - I have also personally volunteered at local food banks.

"I believe a more local approach is a more effective way of getting support to the most vulnerable than a temporary voucher scheme that governments of all parties have repeatedly rejected.

“I know that Conservative-led Derbyshire Council have been leading the way with programmes to help vulnerable families locally.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.