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Politician adds colour to parliamentary debates

Andreas Gross favours geometric patterns and bright colours (www.andigross.ch) Andreas Gross

Swiss parliamentary sessions may not always be very stimulating, but one politician has developed a sure-fire way of staying awake during hours of tedious debate.

This content was published on January 9, 2003 - 09:29

While others read papers or stare off into the distance, Social Democrat Andreas Gross passes the time drawing elaborate abstract pictures.

"Drawing is the ideal way of concentrating on the vote," Gross says in his defence. "It means I don't have to fight off sleep the way my colleagues do."

But Gross's doodling habit also has another benefit. He has sold several of his works to fellow politicians, including Christoph Blocher of the right-wing People's Party, who paid a record SFr1,000 for an original Gross.

Growing demand

Although his doodling forces Gross to keep his eyes down during debates, he says his colleagues do not appear to be irritated by the habit. Instead, like Blocher, they are queuing up to add a Gross to their picture collections.

"They are used to it now and sometimes beg me for one of my signed drawings," he says.

Gross says he's now sold ten of his works to other members of parliament, and has given 20 away - including two to defence minister Samuel Schmid, a personal friend.

His customers don't appear to be put off by the normal asking price of SFr750, or even the fact that Gross's pictures are cheaply produced on standard A4 paper, hotel notepaper or even the back of government resolutions.

Although it's proving to be a lucrative sideline, the Social Democrat says he has no plans to swap his seat in parliament for an artist's studio.

"It's about fun, humour and irony," says Gross, who donates the proceeds to a direct democracy foundation.

swissinfo

Gross summary

Swiss parliamentarian Andreas Gross has a lucrative sideline - he doodles during debates in the house and sells the resulting pictures for up to SFr1,000. Gross says rather than being irritated by the habit, his colleagues are used to it and are eager to snap up an original work.

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