Socialist Worker

Jeremy Deller interview: William Morris is back—and rampaging against the rich

Artist Jeremy Deller talks about his English Magic show, bringing a unique portrait of socialist William Morris to the London gallery named after him

Issue No. 2387

William Morris in Jeremy Deller’s mural We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold

William Morris in Jeremy Deller’s mural We Sit Starving Amidst Our Gold (Pic: Jeremy Deller, courtesy of the William Morris Gallery)


Artist Jeremy Deller currently has two exhibitions touring Britain.

One is English Magic, which was Britain’s entry at the International Art Exhibition in Vienna last year. 

It opened in the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, east London last Saturday, and is set to go to Bristol and Margate later in the year.

Jeremy has chosen political objects from the gallery’s collection to show alongside his Venice work. 

And the gallery’s namesake, socialist writer and designer William Morris, stars in one of the murals.

“It’s where he belongs!” Jeremy told Socialist Worker. “Especially in my exhibition as he is depicted as a giant throwing Roman Abramovich’s yacht into the Venetian lagoon.”

Morris’ rampage against billionaires is one of several examples of class revenge in the show, which contains everything from scrap yards to eerie footage of birds.

Jeremy, like Morris, is optimistic about the role that art can play in our lives. 

Many readers may remember him best for his recreation of the 1984 Battle of Orgreave between police thugs and striking miners.

The struggles of the 1980s left a deep impression. The anniversary of the strike and the death of Margaret Thatcher are an opportunity to bring that history into the open again.

“I think art and culture can help making this an easier topic,” said Jeremy.

The theme of working class history is at the centre of Jeremy’s Hayward Touring exhibition All That Is Solid Melts Into Air. This looks at the diverse legacy of the industrial revolution. 

It is to open in Nottingham on Friday of next week, before going on to Warwick and Newcastle.

“I chose the name as a reference to Marx’s Communist Manifesto and because of the poetic nature of the phrase,” said Jeremy.

English Magic, William Morris Gallery, Forest Rd, London E17 4PP, free entry. Until 31 March.
Hayward Touring exhibition All That is Solid Melts Into Air, Nottingham Castle, Lenton Rd, Nottingham NG1 6EL, 1 February-22 April. For a review of All That is Solid Melts Into Air go to bit.ly/1dBs5qs

 


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