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Red Saunders at the William Morris Gallery: epic photographs celebrate hidden history of radicalism

The William Morris Gallery is to host a new external photographic installation by activist photographer Red Saunders.

Saunders' Hidden project is a series of epic photographs reimagining decisive but overlooked events in the struggle for democracy and equality. Each scene is carefully planned and lit, using costumed models in the style of tableaux vivants – a French term meaning 'living picture'. By bringing these historic milestones to life, Saunders honours the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have so often been hidden from history.

The free-to-visit installation will run from 11 January to 5 March 2017, with a launch event and introduction by Red Saunders taking place on the 11th – places can be booked by visiting Eventbrite.

Two of the most striking images from the series will be displayed in a 3m x 2m lightbox outside the main entrance of the Council-run Gallery.

John Ball the Hedgerow Priest, the Peasants’ Revolt 1380 depicts the rousing open-air sermon given by John Ball, a Lollard priest, to the rebel army that had assembled at Blackheath during the Peasants’ Revolt. Ball argued for social equality, famously asking: ‘When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?’ His radical views brought him into conflict with the Church and monarchy.

William Cuffay and the London Chartists 1842 imagines a meeting of the London Chartists with their president William Cuffay. The Chartists’ petition for parliamentary reform was backed by millions of people. Cuffay was eventually arrested after evidence from a government spy claimed he was planning an armed uprising, which he denied.

Unlike Ball and Cuffay, Morris came from a privileged background and counted royalty among his patrons. Yet later Morris embraced radical socialism and focused his energy on this cause to create his goal of a free and fair world where all people are equal.

Council Leader Chris Robbins said: “Morris was a tireless campaigner for a fairer world so it is fitting that these stunning images celebrating the radical history of Britain are on show outside his former home.”

Red Saunders said: “I am a photographer who is overwhelmed by history and the knowledge and curiosity it gives you. My hope is that these photographic tableaux can give new life to these important episodes of working people’s struggles that are hidden history.”

Hidden is supported by Impressions Gallery, Bradford.

Notes to editors

Red Saunders: Hidden

11 January to 5 March 2017

William Morris Gallery

Lloyd Park, Forest Road, Walthamstow, London, E17 4PP

Free admission

For further information and images please contact Ian Mason:

Tel: 020 8496 4726

Mob: 07740 046143


William Morris Gallery

The William Morris Gallery is the only public Gallery devoted to William Morris: designer, craftsman and radical socialist. Housed in the grade II* listed building that was Morris's family home from 1848 to 1856, it displays the world’s largest collection of his work.

In recent years the Gallery has developed an ambitious contemporary programme, hosting Morris-inspired exhibitions by artists including Grayson Perry, Jeremy Deller, Yinka Shonibare, Bob and Roberta Smith and Clare Twomey.

The Gallery, which is owned and run by Waltham Forest Council, was awarded the Art Fund prize for Museum of the Year in 2013 and was nominated for the European Museum of the Year Award in 2014.

Red Saunders

Red Saunders is a professional photographer who combines his photographic practice with political activism. Saunders made his name with nearly two decades of work for the ground breaking Sunday Times colour supplement, until he ended his association following the Wapping dispute of 1986-7. He was a founder member and activist with the Rock against Racism campaign from 1976 onwards. An arson attack destroyed his studio and life work in 1994 and he did not return to photography until the end of the decade, turning instead to filmmaking. In recent years he has focused on personal work, the Hidden project.

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