My name is David Cameron.
Or, as I’m often known, David Cameron (the other one/the nicer one/the artist/not the prime minister).
I’m sure most people would be fairly pleased to share a name with someone famous. I, however, have found that the novelty wears thin very quickly – especially when your namesake is such a divisive character.
It’s especially ironic as I don’t think you could get two people of such opposing qualities. I am an introverted, peaceful artist, craftsman and writer.
My political views lean strongly towards socialism. I’m a bit of a long haired, bearded hippy; I grow my own vegetables, I’m a vegetarian, very spiritual and have a life-long passion for the natural world and ecological issues.
My name and the word ‘pig’ have never come up in the same sentence.
Hello, My Name Is...
It’s not easy having the same name as someone, or something, famous.
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It wasn’t until 2007 that I knew about the David Cameron. That year I decided to go full time as a self-employed artist selling fantasy paintings and prints and I worked tirelessly to promote my work.
I checked myself on search engines to see where I placed. Every time, I appeared at the top, followed by references to my work, which was now spreading around various online galleries and people were talking about it on social media. All in all, it was going well.
Underneath me was Sir David Cameron, the eminent Victorian Scottish painter and member of the royal academy. I had no problem sharing my name with him.
And then, underneath us was another David Cameron, a Conservative MP. This was the first time I’d heard of him.
I’d never have imagined he would go on to be as influential as he was.
Over the next few years his name became more prominent and was moving up and up in the search results.
Just as business was growing and I was enjoying my life as a successful artist, David Cameron became prime minister in 2010. That’s when my life became a little unsettled.
Almost straight away, my name became a conversation point – and people’s political allegiances seemed to shape their responses. Tory voters found it amusing.
Customers that didn’t like him often expressed their feelings by taking their frustrations out on me and my artwork, throwing criticism my way.
The sign outside my gallery that read, ’David Cameron. Fantasy artist. Portrait painter,’ made people either laugh or turn away in disgust.
The people that did make their way into the shop were often put off by seeing my name attached to it. I heard comments like, ‘I’m not buying that, it’s by David Cameron’ as if it was the PM’s work. Or ‘Signed by David Cameron? Put it down, I’m not having his stuff in my house.’
Another common comment was, ‘Is this what he does on his day off then?’
On Facebook, the interactions took a strange turn. I had lots of people in the armed forces trying to friend me. Another person messaged me, accusing me of pretending to be the prime minister.
Then the emails started to pour in. Angry and frustrated members of the public, ranting at me about the state of the country and telling me I should be ashamed of myself.
If you searched for ‘contact David Cameron’, my email was the first thing to come up on Google. I took a lot of anger. I tried to reply to the emails, saying they had the wrong person and I was an artist, not a politician.
But it wasn’t just emails, I got letters too. They arrived, addressed to David Cameron, at my gallery.
Most didn’t have a return address on so I just threw them away, but there was one from the Congolese Embassy that I didn’t want to discard. It was a letter of condolence in French on the sad death of the prime minister’s son in 2009.
That one I forwarded on to Parliament. Alongside it, I wrote a letter myself, explaining my situation and that I was getting a lot of correspondence.
Early in his first term I received a written reply, thanking me and telling me to contact them again should the situation become inconvenient. I didn’t have to as all the correspondence ceased immediately.
I have no idea what happened to make it stop, but I suppose receiving letters from foreign embassies could possibly be seen as a security risk and somehow my address was blocked.
After that I got no more emails, no more letters.
Business was poor and I struggled to make a living. I still got abuse from the public over my name so I decided to rebrand in 2012, removing my name from everything. New email address, website, leaflets, business cards and advertising. The lot. I had to start all over again.
In Spring 2013 I was forced to close the gallery and I now work from home from my studio, Hobbit Hole Studios, relying on the internet and social media to reach an audience and sell my work.
I still don’t sign my work under my full name, sticking to D. Cameron.
I breathed a sigh of relief when he resigned, hoping that it could signal a return to normalcy for me. Fortunately, with time, less and less people made the connection and David Cameron’s wasn’t so often talked about on the news.
It started to become just the occasional delivery person who commented jokingly on my name, David Cameron (artist and very nice person).
But with his return to the front bench, who knows how long that will last.
You can find out more about Hobbit Hole Studios here.
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