The March Of The Artists
29th July – Saturday 25th August 2018
This summer, three artists; a theatre-maker, Eve Robertson, a photographer, John-Paul Brown, and a visual artist, Lauren Sagar, will spend most of August walking the 250 miles from Manchester to London along the river and canal network. Other artists, friends and supporters will join them for a day, a weekend or just an hour, to participate in the creative activity workshops, performances and the ongoing discussion around artist visibility.
The journey begins at noon on Sunday 29th July outside Manchester Central (formerly GMex) when balladress Jennifer Reid will read the Riot Act to those assembled and then lead us in a song, which was specially written for this event by Mike Hugo, to send them on their way.
The planned route will take them through Stoke, Northampton, Aylesbury and Watford, along several canals including the Trent and Mersey, Oxford and Grand Union.
Lauren’s project was inspired by the March of the Blanketeers, which took place 200 years ago, and is driven by the recent creative response of Manchester’s artists to their displacement due to intense property development.
The historic event was one of a run of events culminating in the Peterloo massacre two years later, and led to parliamentary reform and many of the rights that we now benefit from in the UK. Hundreds of spinners and weavers gathered in Peter’s Field, Manchester in March 1817. They each carried a blanket to identify themselves as textile workers, and a portion of a petition to give to the Prince Regent. The plan was that all the portions were to be joined together on arriving in London, and would highlight the desperate hardship faced by textile workers in the North West. The marchers were attacked by soldiers almost as soon as they set off; in Stockport several received sabre wounds and one man was shot dead. Around four or five hundred got as far as Macclesfield and Leek, some 20 miles away; most of them were turned back at the Hanging Bridge over the Dove as they were about to enter Derbyshire. Only one ‘Blanketeer’, Abel Cauldwell, managed to reach London.
Lauren discovered the story of the Blanketeers whilst researching for her project Call for Cloth, which was part of the touring exhibition, Tall Tales, https://talltalestouring.com during 2016
Like the Blanketeers, artists in Manchester have been experiencing a moment of evolution. In the last 18 months, at least 8 studio groups have been forced to move out of city centre premises to make room for the development of, mainly, luxury accommodation. This has stimulated a number of exciting and dynamic artist-led projects to develop, with the intention of becoming autonomous and sustainable.
The March Of The Artists is a way to let people know about these changes, to keep artists visible, and to encourage their value by engaging people directly with how art works are created.
Each of the three artists will be researching their own lines of interest, taking advantage of the rarity of walking 250 miles through the country in one go. Their methods of documentation will be highly influenced by how much they are able to carry. They will be carrying everything on their backs, so small and light is crucial. They will share documentation; John-Paul is a photographer so will take pictures, Eve will be recording interviews with people, Lauren will be drawing and writing – very small documents in very small note books. They will also be recording sound along the way.