A casting call, inviting local people to be part of a new artwork by international artist Red Saunders, has been issued this week from Derby Museums for the new Museum of Making.

Choosing Derby as the location for his latest Hidden Project, photographer Red Saunders will be casting hundreds of people from across the region to be characters in three giant photographic tableaux, featuring historic scenes of innovation and disruption from Derbyshire’s past.

Hidden: Derby People Histories is being created for the new Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, which will open its doors to the public in 2020. The project is being generously supported by funders of the Museum of Making and Rolls-Royce, and run in collaboration with Unite and FORMAT International Photography Festival.

Red Saunders, who has also created Hidden Project tableaux for Bradford and Manchester, commented:

“I love the excitement that history gives; the hidden stories of people’s histories in particular as they are just waiting to be discovered together. In my first visits to Derby Silk Mill, I became quickly immersed in the stories of the City’s industrial past and its people’s history. Derby also holds, for me, an immediate source of inspiration in the form of Enlightenment painter Joseph Wright, whose beautiful exploration of light and dark on canvas brings together my love of history as an artist who loves photography.”

A founder member of the Rock Against Racism movement in the 1970s, Red Saunders is a professional photographer who combines his photographic practice with cultural, artistic, musical, and political activism. Through re-imagining and reproducing important historic scenes featuring the revolutionaries and radicals so often hidden from history, Red aims to shine photographic light on great moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice.

In Derby, three historic and globally significant moments for the region will be recreated on camera; working closely with local people cast as actors to tell the hidden stories of the Enlightenment, the first Factory Lock-Out of 1833-34, and the advancement of technology from 1880 onwards.

Gill Fennell, Community Investment Manager at Rolls-Royce commented:

“This is an incredible opportunity to take part in the creation of three truly unique works of art that will show how local people have been – and still are – the pioneers that made Derby. It’s so important to tell this story at the Museum of Making, which is all about inspiring people to be curious and innovative, and helping them develop skills to secure our City’s future at the forefront of technology and engineering.”

In a casting call issued last week, Derby Museums are inviting people of all backgrounds and abilities, who live and work in Derbyshire, to get involved in this once-in-a-lifetime project and to register for the casting sessions, which will take place in Derby and Allenton on 30th and 31st March.

Red Saunders will also be sharing his experiences and expertise in a Q&A session at Derby QUAD on 22nd March, and again on 23rd March with a Masterclass at the University of Derby.

Find out more about Red Saunders and The Hidden Project here.


How to register…

We’ll be holding two casting sessions for the Hidden Project in Derby on the following days:

  • Saturday 30 March, 10am-1pm and 2-5pm
    Co-Production Hub at Derby Silk Mill near Cathedral Green
  • Sunday 31 March, 11am-2pm
    St Martin’s Church and Community Centre, Allenton, Derby

To register for the casting event, you’ll need to be available during the production timeframe, when Red Saunders will be shooting the tableaux, for the week commencing 17th June. This will take place in central Derby (venue to be confirmed).

At these sessions, we’ll taking measurements and photographs of everyone who’s registered their interest in the project to help Red Saunders and the wardrobe team devise the Derby People Histories tableaux.

We welcome applications from people of all ages, ethnic groups, genders and abilities who are living and working in Derbyshire.

To receive more information about this project and to book a time slot at one of the casting sessions, please click here.


Other Red Saunders events…

Red Saunders will be appearing at two other events in Derby on 22nd and 23rd March:

  • Red Saunders In Conversation with Audience Q&A
    Friday 22 March, 6-7.30pm
    QUAD, Derby
    Find out more hereA Masterclass with Red Saunders: An ABC of Hidden
  • Saturday 23 March, 12-3pm
    University of Derby, School of Lens Media
    Find out more here.


Hidden: Derby People Histories is part of the Museum of Making project by Derby Museums. Supported by Rolls-Royce and funders of the Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill.

The Hidden Project Casting Call Out is supported by Unite TU and FORMAT19.


Artist biography

A former member of the 60’s underground theatre group CAST, Red Saunders made his name as a regular contributor for the ground-breaking Sunday Times colour supplement for over 20 years in addition to photographic commissions for Rolling Stone, GQ, Esquire and Time Out.

As a founder member and activist with the Rock Against Racism campaign in the 70’s, Red’s ongoing engagement with politics and social change has resulted in The Hidden Project series which, through the involvement of local people, reproduces important historic scenes involving the dissenters, revolutionaries, radicals and non-conformists who have so often been written out of our history books.

Commissioned internationally, Red Saunders has created photographic tableaux including The Peterloo Massacre (Manchester 2019), Wyatt Tyler and the Peasants’ Revolt 1381 (The Museum of London), The Signing of the Treaty of Utrecht 1731 for its 300th Year Commemoration (City Of Utrecht), and The Women Levellers of the Civil War 1646 as part of a major series of tableaux vivant (Impressions Gallery).

As an artist, Red’s work focusses on the staged or constructed school of photography using large format cameras and processes that lend themselves to a much slower, more considered composition. It is this practice that finds influence from the great traditions of classical painting, theatre and opera that are the palette from which he draws his photographic practice.

Find out more about Red Saunders and The Hidden Project here.