Following a casting call issued by Derby Museums in February, over one hundred Derbyshire people will be brought together, costumed and made-up as historic characters this week to be photographed for artist Red Saunders’ latest Hidden project, created for the new Museum of Making.

Internationally renowned photographer Red Saunders, combines his photographic practice with political activism, re-imagining important historic scenes featuring the revolutionaries and radicals so often hidden from history, and shines photographic light on great moments in the long struggle of working people for democracy and social justice.

Choosing Derby as the location for his latest project, Hidden: Derby People Histories, Red and his production crew will be shooting in the city between 17th and 23rd June. They will recreate, on camera, three hidden stories of innovation and disruption from Derbyshire’s past; the Enlightenment, the Silk Mill Lock-Out of 1833-34, and the advancement of technology from 1880 onwards.

The images captured will be stitched together to form three giant photographic tableaux, which will be displayed as a centrepiece for the new Museum of Making when it opens in the city centre next year. Red Saunders, who has previously created Hidden tableaux for Bradford and Manchester, commented:

“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 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.”

The project is being generously supported by Rolls-Royce, Unite the Union and funders of the Museum of Making, in collaboration with Derby Theatre and the University of Derby. Volunteers from Derby Museums have been instrumental in its development, having assisted in the casting process and soon to take on leading roles as runners, make-up artists and wardrobe assistants in the busy production week ahead.

 “This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for those taking part” commented Sue Ball, Arts Producer for the Museum of Making.

“From being measured and photographed at the casting session to being transformed into the living embodiments of historical characters and immortalised on canvas, this is something that will stay with participants for a long time. The production process for these immense photographic works is fascinating and production week will be buzzing like a film set with green screens, clapperboards, props, extras and even animal actors!”

Progress on the project can followed via Derby Museums’ website and Twitter account (@derbymuseums). The completed Hidden: Derby People Histories tableaux will be revealed to the public when the new Museum of Making opens in 2020.

The Museum of Making is being developed and will be operated by Derby Museums, which has secured major grant funding of £9.4 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, £2.5 million from Arts Council England and £3.7 million from the Local Growth Fund by D2N2, the Local Enterprise Partnership. Significant support has also been received from Rolls-Royce and a range of charitable trusts and foundations.

Hidden: Derby People Histories is part of the Museum of Making project by Derby Museums. Supported by Rolls-Royce, UNITE and funders of the Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, in collaboration with Derby Theatre and the University of Derby.

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

Red Saunders – 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 StoneGQEsquire 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.