Friday, April 1, 2011

Hidden photomontage at Museum of London

With the kind permission of the artist himself, Red Saunders.

I wrote previously of the large photomontages of Red Saunders, at the Museum of London until 6 April. Mary Wollstonecraft and the Dissenters of Newington Green is the fourth in the series Hidden, and was added only a couple of weeks ago to the three that had been hanging in the foyer since November: Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt, very bloody, like a full-stage production of Macbeth; Tom Paine, alone on horseback in the woods and looking quite the gentleman; and William Cuffay and the London Chartists 1848, a huge set piece like a Renaissance history painting, of an organising committee that led to the extension of the (male) suffrage. 

Saunders describes his work on his site, Red Dog:

Red calls HIDDEN a photographic 'chamber epic' (a description suggested by the playwright Trevor Griffiths) which recreates events in the long struggle for parliamentary representation and democracy in Britain. Not the history of Kings and Queens, but of the 'Hidden' neglected scenes of working class history. This was no smooth gradual transition; many actions in this long struggle were of life and death intensity, as working people fought for their rights while struggling to keep alive the history made by mass movements of dissenters, non conformists, radicals and revolutionaries.

Museum of London foyer. Thanks, Chihiro!

Mary Wollstonecraft and the Dissenters of Newington Green, or, for shorthand, Mary on the Green.....There's a snapshot of the day of the January shoot, a few of the models chatting while they wait outside the Geffrye Museum, on the winter-green lawn embraced by the arms of the almshouses. Roland Denning put together a Vimeo video -- actually a four-minute slideshow with a voiceover consisting of general explanation and interviews with several of the key players, most notably Red himself.

The photomontage is available on the Geffrye Museum site as well as the Museum of London one (but MoL has broken the link, let's hope temporarily, with their website redesign). Looking at the image, I see what Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, means when he refers to the "painterly quality" of Red's work. 

Hidden has been reviewed, and Saunders interviewed, by the Camden New Journal (Picture perfect snapshots of English history) and the Socialist Worker (History you don't learn at school). Tony Benn is a patron of the project, which works primarily with volunteers. There's a Facebook group to sign up to, if you wish to keep informed, and possibly volunteer for a future shoot.

Many thanks to Red for coming through with the image file today, thanks to Chihiro for her on site inspection, and a hat tip to Sophie Woolley (@Mrs_Evil) for alerting me on Twitter to the arrival of the image in situ.

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