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A CHANCE TO FEATURE IN PETERLOO MASSACRE RECREATION TABLEAUX
 

Star date: 20th August 2018

RED SAUNDERS' HIDDEN PROJECT TO RECREATE MASSACRE

Legendary photographer and co-founder of Rock Against Racism, Red Saunders, is to recreate the Peterloo Massacre in three photo tableaus as part of his Hidden Project, which "shines photographic light on great moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice".

Red is looking for people to feature in the work, plus set and prop builders, caterers, drivers and all kinds of other volunteers for the project which currently has no proper funding, apart from 'tuppance ha'penny', as he tells the Salford Star.

Full details here...


Red Saunders Hidden Project Red Saunders Hidden Project Red Saunders
click image to enlarge

"We only had enough money for two horses, plus two uniforms and one sabre..."

A quick flick through the Hidden Project's series of photographic tableaus reveals stunning brought-back-to-life images that re-imagine events 'in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice'...

There's John Ball, the 'hedgerow priest', addressing a crowd in 1380, arguing for social equality before he was later hung, drawn and quartered by the authorities...There's a mean looking Watt Tyler leading the Peasants' Revolt in 1381...There's Leveller women gathering during the English Revolution of 1647...and there's the masked Swing rioters of 1830...

Never heard of these events? These stunning, superbly crafted photos draw the viewer in while hopefully showing that resistance is as old as time, inspiring new generations to take on the system.

The quality of the artworks should not be in doubt as they are created by Red Saunders, whose photographic work has graced the covers of everything from the Sunday Times magazine (pre-Murdoch) to Rolling Stone, GQ and Time. Red was one of the founders of Rock Against Racism and the incredible Temporary Hoarding graphics, montages and attitudes that spawned, while, also back in the day, working with top agitprop political theatre company CAST.

Now 72, Red says that his Hidden Project is combining all the elements of his career...

"When I was a commercial photographer I really delineated my commercial work from my political work" he recalls "Now, for me, all those things I did then are in the Hidden project; all I learned in CAST are in those pictures, and the graphics I learned in Temporary Hoarding; it's all come together. Whereas before it was separate, now it's all mixed up. All those things I learned are in these pictures."

The latest in the series is to re-imagine the Peterloo Massacre in three tableaus. It's a huge undertaking, almost like making a film, except with no budget...

"Those at Peterloo wanted a better world; we want a better world as well and, for me, art and culture and music are a big part of that better world...but not for the philistines who run this country" Red explains "That's why I appeal to the ordinary people to help us make it in Manchester...

"I'd hoped to do it in collaboration with Manchester's art institutions, galleries and museums but due to massive cuts arts funding has evaporated" he adds "People have said 'Oh have you seen Mike Leigh's film?' and I say 'I don't even want to know about Mike Leigh's film, he's got ?millions I've got tuppance ha'penny'. We'll be doing a smaller tighter version, and will keep the high quality and beautiful tapestry feel of it.

"There's an alliance of artists on the left and Mike Leigh's film helps because it spreads the word but we have a pittance of his money" he says "I've been doing my best but can't get any money. It's pathetic, I'm now down to finding rich lefties which is heartbreaking, and we'll do a crowdfunder."

There's certainly no shortage of interest in the Hidden Project. After yesterday's 199th Peterloo commemoration event in Manchester*, dozens of people queued in the rain for ages to be a part of it, getting photographed and measured during the first 'casting call'. Others volunteered their skills in building sets, catering, driving and organising events.

Red is looking for around fifty people to actually be in the photos, which will be shot in natural exterior light in early October. There will be a series of three images covering the resistance of the 'women in white', the Massacre itself and a third one, using the infamous image of the cop on horseback at Orgreave beating a miner as a palate for the yeomanry cutting down children at St Peter's Field.

The way it works is that loads of images are shot separately and then photo-shopped to make tableaus in the same way that the Victorians would cut negatives up and then realign them to give images depth. But this is high art done on the cheap.

"We've already shot the horses, but we only had enough money for two horses, plus two uniforms and one sabre" says Red "We hired the cutlass which weighs about seven kilos and is razor sharp but we didn't want to hurt the horses so we had to make cardboard swords. I'll re-touch in the real sword and the horses' hooves trampling people."

On stage at the Peterloo commemoration yesterday, Red quoted Tony Benn, the original patron of the Hidden Project, who said that "those who see these reproductions will then be able to identify with past generations and gain knowledge that they are part of a worldwide movement that has always existed and must be sustained..."

At the moment it's the Hidden Project itself that must be sustained...

To be involved in the project or to find out more information email hiddenproject@clara.co.uk Red is particularly looking for younger people to be in the photos.

Also check the website to see some amazing images ? click here

*See previous Salford Star article on yesterday's Peterloo commemoration ? click here

In the second part of this interview, Red Saunders talks about his time with Rock Against Racism, as the We Are Dynamite exhibition of forty years since the Northern Carnival Against The Nazis launches in September. Full feature to follow...

Main image shows Red Saunders' John Ball, the 'Hedgerow Priest', 1380

Joe Bamford wrote
at 05:27:07 on 01 September 2018
I am interested in the shoot because I believe I am related to one of those who was took part in 1819: Samuel Bamford.

Ian Hamilton wrote
at 18:36:15 on 20 August 2018
I would be very interested to participate in your shoot !

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