The Hepworth Wakefield is delighted to present a new work by Turner Prize 2012 nominee, Glaswegian artist Luke Fowler. The new work is commissioned by The Hepworth Wakefield, Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Film and Video Umbrella, through the Contemporary Art Society Annual Award: commission to collect (2010).
The Poor Stockinger, the Luddite Cropper and the Deluded Followers of Joanna Southcott focuses on the work of the Marxist historian Edward Palmer-Thompson, who, from 1946 (at the age of 24), was employed by the Workers’ Education Association (WEA) to teach literature and social history to adults in the industrial towns of the West Riding. These classes provided education to people who had been historically unable to access a university education.
E.P. Thompson became synonymous with the discipline of ‘cultural studies’ that emerged in Post-War Britain, along with fellow northern socialists Raymond Williams and Richard Hoggart. Pertinently, Fowler’s commission will be shown in parallel with the gallery’s new major collection rehang Post-War British Sculpture and Painting.
Fowler’s film explores the issues that were at stake for progressive educationalists. Like E.P. Thompson, many desired to use their teaching to create ‘revolutionaries’ and pursue the original WEA values of delivering a ‘socially purposeful’ education. The film captures a moment of optimism, in which E.P. Thompson’s ideas for progressive education came together with those of the West Riding and its existing tradition of political resistance and activism.
The film draws together archival material from television, the University of Leeds department of Extra-Mural Studies and the Workers’ Education Association. These archival documents are set against present-day film footage and sounds gathered on location in the former West Riding region of Yorkshire.
In realising this new commission, Fowler has worked in collaboration with acclaimed American independent filmmaker Peter Hutton and Yorkshire-born writer/filmmaker George Clark. The film will premiere at The Hepworth Wakefield this summer, before touring to Wolverhampton Art Gallery.
Simon Wallis, Director, The Hepworth Wakefield commented: ‘Luke Fowler is a fascinating artist and commissioning this new work for The Hepworth Wakefield collection is the perfect way for the collection to grow again and continue the city’s progressive approach to collecting contemporary art, as it did in the past with Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore.’
Paul Hobson, Director, Contemporary Art Society commented: “Museums face challenging times, and with the support of the Sfumato Foundation we act as a conduit for highly strategic philanthropy to strengthen curatorial capacity in museums and support new works by artists entering public collections for local audiences no matter where they live. We look forward to seeing this exciting collaboration.’